We all feel sad or down sometimes, but this usually passes within a few days. When you’re caregiving for a love one and notice these emotions lasting for weeks or longer, take note.

Depression is not a normal part of aging, but is more common for people living with a chronic illness that limits their ability to complete daily activities like getting dressed, completing personal hygiene routines or participating in their favorite hobbies.  

As a caregiver, it’s important to know the difference between depression and sadness, as depression can have serious side effects. 

Oct 16 Depression

If you are seeing signs of depression for the first time in your loved one’s life, this could be related to other physical and physiological changes that person is experiencing. Depression can be caused by genetics, brain chemistry and/or stress, and can present itself in different ways. 

Some symptoms of depression can be less obvious than others. Here are signs to look for, particularly if a loved one shies away from discussing their feelings: 

  • Lack of interest in hobbies or socializing
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss 
  • Lack of motivation or energy
  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness 
  • Extended period of sadness
  • Irritability and/or increased anger, anxiety or guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Complaints of increased aches, pains or digestive problems
  • Lessened sleep 

There are ways to treat depression while still living a normal life. Your loved one’s doctor can look at their medication regimen to see if depression is a side effect and adjust dosage or drugs to prevent further issues. The doctor may recommend additional medication or therapy in order to help your family member manage their depression symptoms. 

Don’t let your loved one’s depression go untreated. It is important to care for their mental health as well as physical health. 

If you believe your loved one may be struggling with depression, or have more questions about depression in aging individuals, visit one of these resources: