Some carers have told us about intense sadness, others have said they are frightened that the anger or resentment they feel towards the person with dementia will spill over into actual violence.
Talk to your GP about these feelings. Your GP can help by discussing your feelings with you and may refer to counselling or other services to assist you. Ask your GP if counselling services can be subsidised through a mental health plan. You may be able to receive financial assistance through your private health fund, if you have one.
Carers, especially female spouses or partners are at increased risk of depression. Some studies have found half of all women caring for a person with dementia may experience depression.
Symptoms of depression include low mood or feeling sad or blue, constant worry or feeling stressed, feelings of guilt, crying more than usual, feeling tired a lot, having trouble sleeping (either falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early), and loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. Feelings such as being ‘trapped’ in the role of carer or not being able to provide adequate support may place carers at increased risk of depression.
Depression is not a sign of ‘weakness’ or some type of personal shortcoming, it is an actual health condition that should, and can be treated. For help with depression and/or anxiety:
- Ring Dementia Australia for counselling.
- Talk to your GP about how you are feeling. Your GP can help you develop a mental health plan. This plan can assist with counselling and therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy, which is a ‘talking therapy’ for depression, usually delivered by a psychologist.
- Talk to a psychologist, if you can afford to pay privately or if you have private health insurance. Try to find a psychologist with dementia experience or at least with experience in working with older people.
- Medications can also help with depression and anxiety. Your GP can advise.
- Beyond Blue has useful resources for older people on managing mood.
Call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500
The free counsellors at Dementia Australia will listen and help you make sense about your feelings about dementia.
Talk to your doctor
Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and ask for a mental health plan to get subsidised visits to a psychologist or counsellor. You can also ask your doctor whether medications might help you.