>A recent study found that, among the 21 major occupational categories, the highest rates of depression among full-time workers aged 18 to 64 were found in the personal care and service occupations (10.8 percent). This includes people who help the elderly and severely disabled with their daily needs.
Today I thought: “Hey, elderly and disabled people tend to be depressed, too; we could learn to help each other.”
Turns out that despite phrases like “Incidence of depression rises in the aging community.” I’m having no luck verifying the first part of my thesis. Doctors are sometimes reluctant to diagnose depression in elderly patients. I had similar difficulty documenting increased incidence of depression among people with disabilities. (Although people with disabilities are often unemployed and unemployment is linked to depression.)
So, I got more specific: People with MS have trouble with depression. “Certainly we feel that patients who have a chronic disease can develop a reactive depression,” said Stephen Kirzinger, MD, from the Multiple Sclerosis Care Center Program, Department of Neurology, University of Louisville, in Kentucky, “but in the MS population the incidence is much greater than what you would expect, comparing it with other chronic-disease processes. So we feel it is a manifestation of the disease that our patients, because of their MS activity, actually have a chemical change that leads to depression.” (reference) The article discusses the ineffectiveness of antidepressants for people with MS.
I think this is an idea worth pursuing. Emotions Anonymous (a twelve-step group) was of such help to me, so I’m a fan of mutual-aid groups. Getting to a group might be difficult for elderly or severely disabled people, but how could it change the caregiver/care receiver relationship if it were considered a partnership in depression prevention? [A lateral thought: how many caregiver support groups offer simultaneous care receiver support groups? I’m thinking of parenting support groups where the little kids play together in a separate room.]
Here’s a subject for further study: What would a depression prevention partnership look like?
P.S. Alexis isn’t reading this blog (I think), but she’s gotten on my case for NOT asking for help recently. I’m continuing to try to practice more frequent requests for help with less shame on my part.