As a caregiver, I need an antidepressant for myself. I am 80 years old and living with a depressed person for 18 years is taking its toll.

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I am the 24/7 caregiver for my husband who has had a stroke. I have a herniated disc, breast cancer and many other issues. I have tried a few antidepressants and they have horrid side affects or they are not suggested for someone my age. Can someone suggest a antidepressant that may be helpful. I am finding it difficult to carry on. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

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Oh Love, my heart goes out to you!

Medications can be very helpful in depression. In fact, sometimes they are essential, along with other steps to take. Is your husband being treated for depression? Living with someone with clinical depression can really bring you down (as you know!) Two of you in the same household are bringing each other down.

If your husband is being treated for depression, would it be fair to say the treatment isn't working?

My suggestion would be for both of you to see a geriatric psychiatrist. They are medicine managers and they are trained and experienced with how the brain changes with age. Even if you have to go some distance to consult with this kind of specialist, I think it would be worthwhile. If that is not possible, try to find a psychiatrist who works a lot with elders. I think it is kind of hit or miss talking to a GP about depression.

Here are some other steps that can help, talk about them with the doctor you consult:

1. Get out in the sunshine every day.
2. Take vitamin D3 supplements if yours is low. (Simple blood test can determine that.) In some parts of the country even being out in the sunshine a lot isn't enough, because of the angle of the sun in that location. The pills are tiny, easy to swallow, and inexpensive.
3. Consider light therapy. This involves sitting in front of/near a special light box for a specified length of time each day (such as 20 minutes or an hour, etc.) A psychiatrist can advise you on this.
4. Exercise most days. This can be a walk or chair exercises you can follow along from a video. Anything that moves your body.
5. Don't isolate yourself. I know you are seldom alone, but being with another depressed person isn't better than being alone for this purpose. Invite a friend or relative over for a cup of tea and cookies. If you see your neighbor picking up her mail at the curb, go out and get yours and chat with her a few minutes. Can your husband be on his own for an hour or so? If not, it is essential you get some in-home help so that you can go off and be with people who aren't dependent on you!
6. Consider talk therapy. Talking with an objective, trained listener can be therapeutic. Psychiatrists don't do this, but they can refer you to people who do. Caveat: If you wind up with a young therapist who doesn't have clue one about caregiving, drop that and find someone else.
7. Join a caregiver support group. It is awesome to be with people who truly understand your situation! AgingCare is a good online source of this kind of support. Come often. And also see if you can find an in-person group locally.
8. Getting enough sleep is important. Is that a problem in your caregiving situation?
9. No self-help list would be complete without "eat well." Even small changes, such as eating more fruit, or eating on a regular schedule, can have an impact. Don't make such drastic changes that you feel deprived, though.

I wish you all the best. Come back and tell us how things are going. What things have you tried and what were the results? We learn from each other.
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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(((((((hugs))))) - sounds like you need lots of these and some support in caring for your husband.

I am on a very low dose of Luvox (fluvoxamine) for fibromyalgia, but years ago was on a higher dose for depression. It was the one I found that had the fewest side effects. It is not one that is particularly popular, so your md may not have suggested it. Might be worth a try, as well as all the wonderful suggestions above.

Do come back and let us know how you are doing. I am 80 too, and a distance caregiver for my mother who is 106. I find even that challenging. Is there any way you both could go into assisted living or a seniors community? You would have more support there.
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Reply to golden23
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Hello Lovemybichon - sending you a virtual {{hug}}, because if I lived close by I would give you the break you so desperately need for some time to yourself "self-care". Sounds like your spirits are low due to your current circumstances, which is absolutely understandable. Unfortunately, anti-depressants wouldn't do you much good, b/c they can't change your circumstances. Do you have any adult children you can speak to about getting some assistance in the home, or alternative healthcare arrangements? Now is not the time for you to be "going it" alone, especially when you need help yourself, sweet lady. Saying a prayer for some relief to come your way soon.
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Reply to Rebecca1965
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Someone wrote that an antidepressant would not help the original poster because it would not change the overall life circumstances. From my own experience, I have to offer another view. Twenty years ago I was going through a divorce and sought help from a therapist who diagnosed clinical depression and prescribed an antidepressant. Along with talk therapy, the medication worked quickly and effectively. The antidepressant did not change my circumstances -- I still got divorced -- but it made me better able to deal with everything. The meds brightened my world, energized me, gave me the motivation to get off the couch and get a job, and I made some friends. It was life-changing. I think it's important to talk with a trusted medical person or therapist rather than get med referrals here. I didn't mention my med because I don't even know if it is prescribed anymore. New meds become available all the time. Good luck to you!  I hope you find some help.
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Reply to MrsParker5
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Lovemybichon, oh my gosh you have a lot on your plate. I always felt a senior shouldn't be taking care of other seniors, we just don't have the energy that it takes and that in itself can be depressing. Then add on some health issues. I have heard that walking is good, but that only helps if we are able to do it.

I have found Paxil, a very small dosage, works for me. I've tried others but didn't like the side effects and wasn't willing to try those pills for a month "to get use to the pill", no thanks.

Would it be possible to bring in a caregiver maybe for just 4 hours couple days a week just to give you a break, and for someone you can chat with? In my Dad's later years I hired day time and evening caregivers from an Agency, and the Agency sent out two new persons each day for a week. Dad found two caregivers to be a perfect match for him, had the same background growing up and who understood Dad's sense of humor, they were put on a regular schedule. And whenever I visited, the caregivers and I could chat up a storm :)

Another option if you and hubby can budget it, move to Independent Living where you can have a two bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and large living room. There you can even opt for a higher "care" for your hubby. Then you will be around other couples and enjoy the activities, thus making new friends.

This sure isn't how many couples envisioned their retirement to be !!
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Reply to freqflyer
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Maybe its time to place hubby in a LTC facility. At 80 its got to be very hard caring for him and on top of that you have your own health problems. You need to take care of you right now. A lot of stress will be lifted. You can enjoy in just visiting. You have a lot on ur plate that contributes to the depression.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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I was on just about every antidepressant out there for over 20 years. You know, I never had side effects. But they didn’t help much either. I finally stopped taking them earlier this year and I actually feel better.

Caregiving is tough. It’s even tougher when we have our own issues to deal with. My husband is bedridden and I am responsible for his care all by myself.

Can you hire an aide to come out a few hours a week to give you a break? Medicare would pay for it if you get a script from his doctor.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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I use Ashwagandha for stress & depression. Worked almost immediately - My preferred is Gaia Ashwagandha but it is a little pricey at $25.
I also bought NutraHerbals Organically Grown Ashwagandha with Black Pepper Extract and Himalaya Ashwagandha - because they were on sale.

I do take them morning and night and they are helping me a lot! You will dream more but they won't be bad dreams. And you waken feeling rested.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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Lovemybichon, All the suggestions before mine are excellent, especially getting out of the house for a few hours every so often. To do this you might call your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and request Respite Vouchers, which assist the caregiver in hiring temporary help (friend, family, neighbor, i.e. someone you trust and your husband is comfortable with) to stay with your loved one so you can get out and do something nice for yourself, de-stress and just breathe. Most respite voucher programs do not have an income cap. (Yayyyyy!!!) There are AAA's in every state. (I am a Respite Coordinator and see how much the vouchers help informal 24/7 caregivers.) I offer positive energy to you and all caregivers.
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Reply to Patts44ok
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I agree with Mrs. Parker...and in fact was on an antidepressant after a car accident gave me PTSD. However, no doctor worth their salt should give out a Rx for an antidepressant and not advise the patient to have talk therapy. They go hand in hand and together they make a big difference. I finally was able to drive again. Sometimes a low dose is all that is needed. But I see talk therapy as valuable as well as getting some relief so you can find joy in life. Joy will not happen with just a relief caregiver...you need to see a way out of your desperate situation. This is where talk therapy helps. The therapist works with you to give you suggestions. By the way, when you see a therapist, go to either a psychologist or a social worker, because I found out the hard way that Medicare will not pay for a LPC (Licensed professional counselor). Who knows why, just another stupid medicare rule. Please let us know you have a plan and what it is. I will be praying for you. All is not lost.
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Reply to Harpcat
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jeannegibbs May 31, 2018
Harpcat, I agree that Lovemybichon may benefit from talk therapy as well as medication. Talk therapy often accompanies the beginning of medication use. But that isn't always applicable. My husband fully recovered from a fall onto his head EXCEPT for depression, which hung on for a year. His psychiatrist showed him on a model where the injury affected his brain and why he needed an antidepressant. And I had my husband back! No talk therapy needed!
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