Any caregivers struggling with clinical depression and taking care of aging parent?

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I am a single 52 year old female. I suffer from severe depression and 3 years ago peri-menopause symptoms started. I moved my mother, now 93, in with me 7 years ago and am struggling to take care of her. I know something has to change... I just don't know what or how. I guess I'm looking for any advice???

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Yes, I think that the respite care is great if you can get it. Not sure if it is a possibility in my case, but at least the therapist who I spoke with today was going to check with her supervisor, a psychologist, to figure out whether they could help him with neuropsychology and/or a social worker. My father is worse than a child and beyond my control. I am supposed to go back to the therapist next week. She couldn't make any promises about whether they could help with dementia patients, but my father has had mental health issues his whole life so he is a complicated case.

I agree with getting out and getting exercise. Since retiring from my job six months ago, I am obviously becoming out of shape and watching my diet isn't enough. It is difficult to plan things or get in the mood when we are in these difficult, stressful situations.
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I am dealing with depression and weight gain - yes I did the endometriosis surgery, too. I have other health problems as well. I have found some relief in exercise and am hoping to get a new counselor to help as well. Getting out of the house helps some also. I am getting some respite care now and that helps to know that there is someone else who will step in for a while so you can get out.
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lizzywho61,

Thanks for the information. I do belong to a couple of very good endometriosis online support groups. Also one for adhesion related disorders, which is likely the biggest issue, although I know that endometriosis can remain active post-hysterectomy and menopause and be a contributing factor to adhesions. Unfortunately, at my age, I don't think that most of the endometriosis excision experts would be willing to do surgery on me because of the amount of adhesions. There is one in Texas who says that he has a 70% success rate for treating adhesions but I am nowhere near him and traveling gets complicated if you have surgery, and I have nobody to accompany me. It is probably too late for me. This is why endometriosis needs to be diagnosed and excised earlier before it gets too difficult for surgeons to handle.

I also can't help wondering if a good % of elderly women have GI or urinary symptoms due to undiagnosed endometriosis and adhesions, or made worse by them. The adhesions can affect the kidneys, sometimes in serious ways. Endometriosis affects women of ALL ages. Endometriosis and adhesions can cause constipation, diarrhea or both. It is ridiculous that knowledge about women's health care issues are stuck in the dark ages. At least the Australian government recently made a public apology recently about the situation with endometriosis and has vowed to do better. It is way overdue.
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Andree---
A better question might have been "Is anybody here NOT struggling with depression along with caregiving?"--seems like the two go hand in hand.

As I am (luckily) only a PT caregiver for mother, my depression can be managed. Meds, as needed, exercise, plenty of sleep and talk therapy. Am I better? Yes, am I WELL? I don't think I ever will be "well". Too much abuse from her in my childhood--too many health issues and too many kids!

Caring for someone who is actually a part of the root cause of your depression is very hard--as you're finding out. I HAVE to be civil and kind to mother, she has some level of dementia and very poor memory--so there's zero point in trying to get her to "own" some accountability for my issues. It will just never happen.

Being sick on top of that--wow, your plate is full.

If you moved mom in with you, and that's when things went south...maybe it's time to move her out. Is that a possibility? Would you feel better w/o her in your life 24/7? Be honest with yourself about this, as you work through therapy. I'm still trying to come to terms with stuff that went on 50 years ago---so unfair, but that's life.

Keep up with the therapy, come here to vent and try to take good care of yourself. I never learned how to self-care--so this has been really, really hard.
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Avacado1,
I do not suffer from depression. But, I suffered with undiagnosed or misdiagnosed Endometriosis. Endometriosis that actually got worse after a Total Hysterectomy. No, it’s not suppose to happen that way but for a very small percentage of us it does.

I hope you’ve been properly diagnosed and treated for your Endometriosis. If not go to Endometriosisassn.org read about your GI symptoms. There should be a list of specialists listed in the left margin.

There is also a list of Scientific Advisors. They are from around the world. One of the Scientific Advisors was officed two hours away from me. I finally found help in 2008.

I can’t imagine trying to caregive while trying to deal with your own symptoms.

I agree with all the other advice given to you by others here. Please keep up the counseling and meds to try to control the depression.
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We generally think of a depression care plan as consisting of medication and talk therapy. That is the foundation, I think.

But there are also some lifestyle elements that can contribute.
1) Exercise. Walking is commonly recommended.
2) Exposure to blue light for some part of each day. There are panels to sit near while reading the paper, caps and visors with blue lights, and even goggles.
3) Sunshine. Sitting on a patio for a half hour a day is therapeutic! And this can be combined with walking!
4) Vitamin D supplements if needed. This is an easy blood test, and the supplement is tiny and easy-to-swallow.

I don't think that any of these measures takes the place of medication and therapy, but they are worthwhile additives.
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No advice, just to let you know you are not alone in this.
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I am a 58-year old caregiver to my 89-year old father. I am also single, never married and recently retired. I have a few health issues of my own, my life was destroyed by what I now believe was a severe case of undiagnosed endometriosis and also adhesions that formed from it and ineffective, inadequate surgeries by surgeons who didn't have the proper skills to recognize and treat it. I never moved out of my folks house because I never knew if I would be able to continue working. And no way I could even go out on a date with my severe pain and GI problems. Needless to say, I also likely have depression and now with my unmanageable father, you can add frustration and anxiety to that. I also have always had fatigue and retirement hasn't helped with that as I had hoped it would. Not sure if it would be considered clinical depression since I obviously have had good reasons for being depressed.

I went to a therapist last week in an attempt to find some assistance with my out of control father. I have no help from my siblings, and one of them lives halfway across the country. The therapist mostly just spent the hour collecting information. I go back to her tomorrow. In the past, I was put on various anti-depressants which were 'supposedly' for help with the abdominal and pelvic pain that comes from endometriosis and adhesions but I didn't care for any of them. Too many side effects like worse fatigue, feeling like a zombie and weight gain that didn't really help with my symptoms. But I know that they can help some people.

I will see what she has in mind. I actually would like it if they had someone who would have my father as a patient and perhaps figure out the right meds for him. He is on Risperidone but aside from helping him sleep through the night, it has not helped with his behavior.

This clinic's website says that it has a variety of services...neuro-psychology, family and other therapists, medication management. So I was hoping that they would have the proper staff to possibly treat both of us. But she didn't sound very optimistic at the first appointment about how to get help with his behavior. Just suggested a geriatric Dr which we don't really have in our area.
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Are you being treated for your depression? How -- medication and/or talk therapy?

Depression is a serious disease. It can interfere with any and all aspects of our lives. The good news is that it is treatable. Maybe not curable. Perhaps for some kinds of depression we'll be susceptible to recurring episodes. But treatment can be very effective.

Tell us about the caregiving experience. Is it hard physically? Lots of lifting, for example? Does your mother appreciate your help? Is she very demanding? Which ADLs does she need help with? Why did you move her in with you, instead of a care center?

Something has to change. I suggest dealing with the depression first. (Put your own oxygen mask on before helping the person next to you.) If you currently are in treatment and are compliant, then maybe it is your treatment plan that needs to change. Different meds, different dosage, different therapist. If you are not in treatment arranging that is highest priority.

Discuss the caregiving issues with the talk therapist. (Note: not all therapists are trained concerning caregiving. Try to find one that is. If you don't click with the first therapist, it is OK to ask for a change.)

Perhaps another thing that has to change is the caregiving situation. Maybe you need more help. Maybe you need regular respite. Maybe the change has to be more drastic than that. Once you are more like you instead of a depressed version of yourself you'll be able to consider other changes better.

Finding a caregiver support group can be extremely helpful. It does not substitute for therapy, but it can be a valuable supplement.

Come back here often to talk about what is going on with you. That can help, too.
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