Everyone has times where they feel weighed down by the world. These feelings are normal and most people experience them at some point. However, depression is more than just feeling down for a few days or sad about a tragedy in your life.

Chronic feelings of depression can be complicated to deal with and may render you unable to care for yourself in the way you need. This article will help you understand what depression is, how a care plan can improve your life, and how a CDPAP caregiver can help you follow through with your self-care and treatment goals.

What is Depression?

Major depressive disorder, commonly just referred to as depression, is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a state of mind that adversely affects your daily experiences. This can mean you have poor moods, difficulties finding motivation, and it can make it difficult to perform day-to-day activities. Depression is unfortunately common, but that does not mean the illness is not serious.

If you think you may be suffering from depression, get in touch with a therapist, psychiatrist, or doctor to see if they can help you alleviate your symptoms. If you believe someone you love may be suffering from depression, here are some signs of depression you should watch for.

Signs of Depression: Symptoms to Watch Out For

While depression is common, and some people will feel depressed after a tragedy has occurred in their life, major depressive disorder extends beyond normal feelings of sadness. If you or your loved one is feeling many of the following symptoms daily and for several months or even years without improvement, they may be suffering from depression.

Symptoms may include:

o   Feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, and hopelessness

o   Sudden emotional outbursts and irritability

o   Difficulties sleeping, sudden insomnia

o   Sluggishness

o   Loss of interest in passions

o   Unexplainable aches and pains

o   Changes in appetite

o   Increased anxiety

o   Suicidal thoughts

In isolation, these symptoms can be troubling, and you should reach out to your loved one if you see these symptoms occurring to assure the person they are cared for.

However, it is vital to separate these symptoms of depression from normal grief. Remember, depression is a mindset and not just a reaction to a life event. Grief and depression can come together. However, knowing the difference between them can help you or your loved one get the right help.

Understanding the Types of Depression

Another aspect of depression is understanding that it comes in many forms and that symptoms vary. Acknowledging what you’re feeling truthfully will be the only way to make an effective care plan.

Look out for these kinds of depression when considering making a care plan:

o   Anxious distress: feeling your losing control

o   Mixed depression: a mixture of depression and mania

o   Melancholic features: a general lack of enthusiasm for life

o   Psychotic features: depression accompanied by hallucinations

o   Catatonia: strange or uncontrolled body movements

o   Peripartum Onset: depression that begins because of pregnancy

o   Seasonal Onset: depression that comes with seasonal changes

Once you start identifying symptoms, you can begin treating them.

Making Your Care Plan: What Goals to Keep in Mind

When you make a care plan, sit down with these goals to ensure your treatment strategy will help you actively start improving your thinking patterns. You’ll want your care plan to help you:

o   Reduce symptoms

o   Improve your motivation to help you function better at home (and at work)

o   Prevent suicidal thoughts

o   Prevent further or recurrent depression

There are many ways depression symptoms can be alleviated through treatment to help you work through your depression.

Effective Treatments of Depression

While depression must be addressed at its source, medical treatments can help you gain a new perspective and help you overcome chemical imbalances so you are no longer held back by depression. The most common treatments include:

o   Medications: to address brain-chemical imbalances

o   Psychotherapy: to help deal with the life causes of depression

o   A combination: often, medication can help you deal with symptoms while they work through the thought patterns that created your depression

o   Active lifestyle: Even though you may not want to be active, getting outside, moving, and meeting people can often reignite the emotions that have been neglected and repressed

The most important part of whatever depression treatment you choose is consistency. Part of this will be following up with your doctor every 1-2 weeks, especially at the beginning of treatment. This will help you ensure that any medication you’ve started taking is working.

But medications will only be a part of the process. How you care for yourself or a loved one with depression significantly affects how well the treatment works.

How to Care for Someone with Depression

It can be challenging to express how you feel when you’re dealing with mental illness. Struggling with depression often means being hyper-focused on the negative and having difficulties focusing. This can make it harder to describe how you’re feeling to others.

When trying to communicate with a depressed person or as a depressed person, the keywords are patience and kindness.  However, there are some tactics you can use to help care for a person with depression:

o   Be firm and speak in a low clear tone

o   Encourage the person to speak; verbalizing feelings helps address their sources. Use leading statements and open questions to prompt honest responses

o   Keep a therapeutic distance, as in, try not to get caught up in the person’s emotions

o   Empathy is key, be patient with the person

o   Encourage self-care, and give positive feedback to attempts at maintaining personal hygiene

o   Be calm and supportive (but keep therapeutic distance) in the face of irritability and anger

o   Be supportive and point out strengths and positive aspects of a person to help improve self-esteem

These methods are also great for communicating with yourself if you suffer from depression. Overall, depression may make it hard for you to communicate–especially with strangers. This is why having the proper care assistant can help you make sure your path to better mental health is easier.

How a CDPAP Aide Can Help

If you are already on Medicaid and live in the state of New York, you are in a unique position to receive the care you need from someone you already trust.

CDPAP is a self-directed care initiative that allows you to pick anyone you’re close to that’s eligible to work to become your care assistant, and they will be paid for assisting you. They need no certification or license to become your care assistant, and you’ll always be in charge of your care.

To see if you’re eligible for CDPAP, reach out to your local Department of Social Services or Medicaid plan, and see if you can get the live-in help that you need from a loving family member or friend.

Start Feeling Better, Take the First Steps to Better Mental Health

When you make a care plan to help with your or a loved one’s depression, you’re taking the first steps to better mental health. It will take daily work, patience, and understanding for all parties to overcome depression, but the effort is worth it. If you are suffering from depression, remember to be kind to yourself, especially on bad days.

It’s alright to need help. Reach out and stop suffering in silence.

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