Michele's Blog

Mental Health Effects of Caregiving

By Michele Scott

Annually the country creates psychological and physiological health day observances. These months, weeks and days allow people with certain health conditions, advocacy organizations, and support groups, to rally around a common cause.  May is Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Month. Physiological and psychological health care are a must for caregivers and their patients. Transitioning into caregiving offers a list of challenges. Most caregivers were gainfully employed, were heavily involved in family events and had full rich social lives. Coming from a variety of backgrounds and experiences their lives are drastically changed. They find themselves administering medications, giving shots and injections, monitoring IVs and changing catheters.

Today we see mental health in the spotlight; for children, teens, adolescents, adults and seniors. Counseling, psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, suicide watch, drug treatment and interventions have become familiar terms as society deals with an aging population, dementia affecting a younger population and an opioid epidemic. As education and mental health campaigns break through the century long stigmas of acknowledging mental illness and behavioral disorders, more people are seeking individual, family and group counseling. Mental health rehabilitation centers, outpatient case management and counseling and coaching facilities are far from the scary relics of previous centuries.

The coping strategies, feelings, behaviors and moods of both the caregiver and their patient can be mentally damaging.  A diagnosis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder has extended far beyond the military. As the diagnosis became more accepted across military platforms, similar symptoms were identified in crime victims, terminally ill patients, and in unprepared (suddenly thrust into the role) caregivers. Side effects of caregiving can include anxiety, fear, substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and depression. Patients who find themselves in need of a family member caregiver can experience a sense of grief, loss, anger and anxiety and display mental and behavioral disorders.  Longtime patient and caregiver relationships can become poisoned leading to dangerous interactions, serious accidents, physical, emotional and mental assault.

Mental health month is the perfect time to assess your mental health and the mental health of your loved one. Home Helpers is here to help ease your transition into caregiving and support you throughout your caregiving experience. Whether you were drafted into caregiving by family members, felt obligated to take on the task, are fulfilling a promise or doing it out of love, a healthy mind and body is a necessity for both the patient and the caregiver. Call us.