Diabetes and your eyesight

diabetic_visionThe domino effect of diabetes can take its toll on various aspects of your health. How does diabetes affect your eyesight? At some point following diagnosis, many people with diabetes experience changes to their vision. Diabetes (type 1 & 2) can affect the blood supply to the eyes, which may contribute to the development of cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

If you have diabetes, it is really important to have regular eye examinations to monitor your eye health and detect any issues early.

So, what is Diabetic retinopathy you ask? High blood sugar levels can damage the fine blood vessels of the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye.
This can result in blockages, blood leakage, swelling and inflammation which can all affect your vision.

The condition is called diabetic retinopathy and it happens in two stages:

1.  Non-Proliferative or Background Retinopathy – this is the early stage when vision is not permanently lost but detection is important to prevent the condition worsening. At this stage, the vision may become hazy and straight lines appear squiggly.

2.  Proliferative Retinopathy – this stage is more serious and needs to be treated as soon as possible to prevent serious vision loss. Higher than normal blood glucose levels lead to the growth of new, very fragile blood vessels in the retina. They are more prone to bleeding which can cloud the vision, cause scarring and even lead to retinal detachment.

How can you detect it? Diabetic retinopathy can be detect by your optometrist often before you even experience any symptoms. If you have any of the following conditions, you may need a eye check up:

  • blurred vision
  • blank or missing areas of vision
  • double vision
  • difficulty seeing well at night
  • problems with balance, reading, watching TV and recognising people
  • being sensitive to glare

And what is the treatment? Good management of blood glucose levels may help delay the onset of diabetic retinopathy. But once it has been detected, you may need to see an eey surgeon who will most likely carry out laser treatment. Lasers can be used to kill the newly grown blood vessels in the retina, causing them to clot. The treatment cannot restore lost sight but it is most effective when diabetic retinopathy is in its very early stages, which is why the early detection is important.

Through regular eye examination and adequate diabetes management, nearly all vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy is preventable. When did you last have your eyes checked?

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When A Child Is Born With A Disability

For parents having a child born with a disability is a life-long adjustment. The siblings and other family members are also affected. Families must learn to tolerate, accept and hopefully celebrate children who are not what they originally had in mind. Communities also play a part by accepting and providing opportunities for the child to lead as normal as practically possible life.downsyndromebaby2 (1)
Expectant parents usually dream that their new baby will have some of their features and grow up to share their values and interests. But what happens when the baby is very different from them because of a disability? Disabilities may result from a number of factors. How do the parents cope with raising this child, develop a bond of love and appreciate the child with their own individual characteristics? Any new baby will change the family dynamics, but when the child has a disability, the siblings and the parents share the grief and often the responsibilities for care of the child. It’s important to know how the child with the disability feels about their restricted life.

The birth of such a child usually follows five stages:

  1. denial,
  2. anger,
  3. bargaining,
  4. depression and
  5. acceptance.

Parents usually react with psychological stress, a feeling of loss and low self-esteem. The child is “disappointing” and a “social obstacle” which often leads to shame and embarrassment. Parents may direct their anger toward others, their partner, the doctors, or other families who do not have this stress. Some parents bargain with their higher power e.g. “If you heal my child of the disability, I’ll quit drinking” or they may feel guilt, that the child is a punishment for a past sin. They may overly protect this child who is a symbol of their failure.

The frustrations of finding specialised support, managing added costs of care, maintaining social communications may mean that the parents aren’t able to communicate with each other. It is usually the mother who assumes more responsibility, so that the father often feels neglected by his wife who is busy with the child and so the problem manifests.

In a recent study in the US, it found that the divorce rate was ten times larger in families with a disabled child than in the general population. Whether the child is placed in an institution or kept at home, the grief of the loss of an expected normal child is a life-long chronic sorrow. Parents need to talk with a competent professional about their reactions and strategies for coping.patient-with-teddy-bear

Managing the other siblings
Siblings often report that they are ashamed or embarrassed by their sibling with a disability and don’t have the words to explain to their friends why their sibling is different.  They often report that they feel neglected because their parents are overburdened with care for their sibling. However those children who have open communication with their parents are better at establishing relationships with friends. Later in life the sibling often feels that they have gained something special because of the responsibility placed on them and they feel they understand that people are different and that they have learned how to manage difficult situations – clearly a much better outcome.

Many children are born with a disability because of genetic, environmental or unexplained reasons. Families who have a child with a disability will no doubt incur emotional and economic hardships. The parents and siblings need to express their disappointment, anger and frustrations and to learn to accept and respect the child for his own character. There’s an African saying: “It takes a community to raise a child.” Communities can help to provide access to transportation, jobs and social activities and learn to know the child by his character, personality and skills. Our professional staff are able to offer support and relief to the children and families with a disabled person which enables them to keep the person at home and have as close to normality in their family with minimal stress.

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You’re On Holidays But Your Medications Are Not

The Holidays are upon us and it can be a busy time with lots of family and friends to catch up with, routines are disrupted, household chaos is common and the daily medications are too easily forgotten.remember-to-take-med

And all too often the common reason people don’t take their medication is because they simply forget. Taking medication can become so routine and usually associated with specific activities that you’re unsure whether you took your pill or not. This can be compared to other autopilot activities, like driving to work or the next thing after your breakfast would be taking your medication but when your routine is thrown into anything but routine, this can really change everything.

You also might confuse thinking about taking your medication with actually doing it, especially likely with repeated activities where we have a lot of memories of the task together.

With many medications there are also no immediate consequences or reaction. So you might not realize you even missed a dose. It may take a few days or weeks to notice a big difference.

Some people are ambivalent about taking medication. Due to judgment and misunderstanding, individuals with mental illness sometimes feel they should be able to ‘think’ their way out of their symptoms, and may feel ‘weak’ or guilty for ‘relying’ on a medication.

The goal of medication isn’t cure, but care. A reduction in a few of the more disturbing symptoms allows people to regain hope, quality of life and the ability to begin to incorporate behavioural changes that can be part of a lifelong process to improve overall well-being. In other words, medication is just one piece of a health and wellness plan that is vital to maintain routine.

Some Easy-to-remember Strategies for Taking Medication

It is advisable to always communicate with your doctor about any concerns, and work as a team with your prime carer.

Here are a few simple ideas for remembering to take your medication:

1. Use a pillboxoriginal

The best and easiest strategy is to put your medication in a weekly pillbox that has a compartment for each day. It doesn’t just visually remind you to take your medication but also prevents double doses. You may need a carer or family member to fill the pill box correctly and monitor it.

2. Take advantage of technology

If you’re usually plugged in, set up electronic reminders maybe an email or text alert to signal it’s time to take your medicine.  If you are taking medication for a serious condition such as heart disease, you can use COD Medi Alert personalised medicine reminder service which reminds you to to take medication on time through phone calls, sms, whatsapp and email.

3. Combine with a daily task

Tie taking your medication with an activity you do every day, such as making coffee or brushing your teeth.

4. Set an alarm

Setting a daily alarm can be helpful, especially if the timing requirements for when you are supposed to take it tend to be tighter.

5. Break out of autopilot

Make it a point of noticing when you take your medication i.e. look at it in your hand, and tell yourself “I’m taking Tuesday’s pill now,” This makes it more likely that you will have a specific memory trace for today’s dose.

6. Keep your medication visible

As they say, “out of sight, out of mind.” So if you’re just starting your medication, leave it out in an easy-to-spot place.

7. Enlist some help if necessary

It can help to have a non-judgmental, positive person who understands your situation support you through treatment, like a carer that just pops in to ensure you have taken your medication. This person can help you remember to take your medicine or be there to give you a high-five after attending your appointment. It really can make a big difference and a relief for the family knowing that everything is going to be all right.


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Holiday Time With Alzheimers or Dementia

Holidays are just about here so let’s ensure all the family have some fun. The holidays are a time when family and friends often come together. But for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the holidays can be challenging. Take a deep breath. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions. It is possible to enjoy the holidays with a little bit of planning.dementia

The holidays are full of emotions, so it can help to let guests know what to expect before they arrive. Don’t alarm them but inform them.

If the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, relatives and friends might not notice any changes. But the person with dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat themselves.  Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish their thoughts.

If the person is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited.  These changes can be hard to accept. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behaviour and memory are caused by the disease and not the person.

Ensure the expectations are known. The stress of care giving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Invite family and friends to a face-to-face meeting if you need to, or set up a telephone conference call. Make sure everyone understands your care giving situation and has realistic expectations about what you can do. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine.

Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. Perhaps you may need to reduce the number of people you invite to come to your party to ensure it is manageable.Keeping holidays fun

Involve everybody – including those with Dementia. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. Why not involve the person with dementia is preparing the house for the visitors,  but be careful with decoration choices. Blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible.

Stuck for gift ideas? Why not request that friends or family buy practical gifts like some comfortable clothing, audiotapes of their favourite music, videos and photo albums. Generally, keep it simple and it will be used.

If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you take care of yourself as the carer for your loved one. This could be a cleaning or household chore service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation. If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you take care of yourself as you care for your loved one like a cleaning service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation.

And if you wish to take a break away from the home, our carers will be most happy to ensure your loved ones with dementia are in good, safe hands in your absence.

My best advice:  keep the holidays fun for all

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Managing Depression

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It is estimated that 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.managing depression

In 2008, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 1 million Australians were suffering with depression and another 2.3 million with anxiety. It is estimated that depression will be second to heart disease as the leading medical cause of death and disability within the next 20 years.

Depression associated disabilities cost the Australian economy around $15 billion (yes, billion) each year.  Death from suicide accounts for more fatalities than all armed conflicts around the world or all road toll deaths. Quite alarming but often not reported.

What is the problem? Is life just getting to hard? We really need to start ‘smelling the roses’ at little more. Life is too short to waste one moment on over thinking.

Often the solution is found in changing one’s focus. While many external or lifestyle factors can help, the real solution lies in making a difference in the lives of others. There is nothing more exhilarating than saving another’s life, or even just making a difference.  When one dares to venture outside the dark corridors of the black hole of depression to find ways to cure the depression, if only temporary there is often great relief.

Sometimes the solution is their lifestyle habits. Changing to a good dietary fats and controlled carbohydrate intake in the management of depression often brings good results.

With proactive concern for the needs of those suffering from the beast within, people can often pull through to a much freer life without that black beast knocking on the door. With some of these self-help strategies, you may find relief:

  • Track your thoughts by writing them down. It’s a good way to express your feelings, and it can also help you understand the beast within.
  • Learn relaxation. Go for a walk or meditate for reducing stress.
  • Go easy on alcohol and drugs. If you’re using alcohol and drugs to cope, you could actually make your symptoms worse.
  • Eat well and keep active. It can make a difference to your energy levels, and helps stimulate hormones (like endorphins) that help you feel better about yourself.
  • Take some time out to do things you enjoy. When you’re feeling down it can make it really hard to get motivated to socialise and do things. You may even have to learn something new.
  • Get back into nature. There’s research that shows that when you have contact with pets, plants, beach, gardens, parks etc., it reduces stress and boosts your mood.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Talking to a family member or friend is a great opportunity for you to express how you’re feeling and what’s going on.
  • Join a support group. It can be really helpful to talk to people who have gone through similar experiences.
  • Set small goals. Don’t expect a ridiculous amount of yourself; but set yourself small goals and take things one step at a time.
  • Develop a healthy sleep routine. Sleep has a huge effect on our physical and emotional health.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a balanced diet. There is a huge number of benefits associated with exercise and a good diet.

If these strategies don’t find the relief you are seeking, then contact your doctor or mental health professional for treatment. Don’t hide in fear or shame because there is a better life waiting for you.

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A Good Ending

dying wishesThey say there are two things in life that are unavoidable, taxes and death. Neither has to be a painful experience but I can’t manage your tax. But saying goodbye to a loved one can be less painful with some careful management and sound approach.

As you or loved one approaches the last chapter of a life and beginnings start to close, many times the person only has their family and personal dignity left. As the caregiver you need to honour that dignity, as well as the wishes that preserve it. Remember, we want to add life to their years, not simply years to their life.

There will probably come a time when your loved one cannot tell you what they want in the final stages. That time may come sooner than later so make certain to take the time now to discuss your loved one’s feelings on life-sustaining medical treatment, hospice, last rites, and a final resting place. Discuss it with the rest of the family unit so they know these feelings and you can honour those wishes without strife when the time comes.

The decision on whether or not to remove life support treatment can be a very sensitive issue. Some people want to have every medical procedure that can be done to extend their life and sometimes without common sense or reasoning until all options are exhausted. There are others who just want to go quietly, with enough pain medications to sustain them until they pass.

It’s essential to understand what your loved one wants. Death itself is not failure. Sadly some families think they have failed if they have not exhausted every medical procedure and technology available. Such life extension often precipitates more difficult problems (bedsores, infections, worse illnesses) that cause great suffering. In either case, your loved one will die, only the circumstances of that death can be changed.

Some of the most traumatic situations occur when the spouse or adult children do not understand the dying person’s wishes. Each tries to maintain their own version of what they think dignity demands, and, many times families fight and family harmony is lost. This only causes a rift and can be stressful for the dying one.

The second level of trauma can occur right after death, at the funeral. By making sure that your loved one arranges a well-planned, prepaid funeral to avoid issues at the funeral parlour and it can become a celebration of life.

Letting your loved one die with dignity is important. Dying with dignity means making sure you carry out the dying person’s last wishes.

You don’t want someone who won’t be able to “let go” at the end be your loved one’s prime health care decision maker. No one we’ve met ever wants to die slowly and in pain. If there is one adult or child who cannot let go of a parent or loved one at the end, then don’t let them be the ultimate decision maker under a health care Power of Attorney because they will not honour the person’s last wishes. You have to have the right person in this role.

Our best advice if you are facing this time, is watch your own activity for burnout and get help early – there is a lot of support services available.

Embrace hospice care and the hospice care team of doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, clergy, and volunteers as their experience will truly be beneficial to managing the journey.

Above all, spend quality time with your loved one. Your presence alone is valuable to them.

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Carers ‘feel guilty’ to ask for help

Carers ‘feel guilty’ asking for help from support services when trying to manage someone with an illnesses on their own.feeling guilty to ask for help

That’s one of the things that we too often hear from family carers, especially when they first come to our services and they feel guilty for having to ask for help in the first place like they are being a burden on others. Their compassionate heart never thought that they would be the one reaching out. There is often a huge amount of guilt associated with being a carer.

It is quite common to feel guilty about things such as:

  • the way the person was treated in the past
  • feelings of embarrassment about the person’s odd behaviour (if they suffer from dementia or down syndrome)
  • losing your temper through tiredness, frustration and feeling of doing it all alone
  • not wanting the responsibility of caring (but rather inherited the responsibility)

You may feel guilty about past promises that cannot be met, such as ‘I’ll always look after you’. Too often carers have those feelings of ‘oh God I wish I could run away’, ‘I just don’t want to be here’ and  ‘why did this happen to me?’

Research shows that peer support was “absolutely crucial” to improving the well being of carers, as many carers are at risk of isolation. It can be lonely and at times depressing when the entire support rests on one person’s shoulders. But they should not be made to feel guilty to reach out. It is OK to ask for help.

A recent study by Deloitte Access Economics valued unpaid care in Australia at over $60 billion a year. That has to equate to a huge number of carers in our communities that should be reaching out for some extra support.

The physical and emotional demands of caring for someone with an illness can be high. As the amount of care that is needed increases, more time and energy is required from the carer. If you are worn down, caring will become even more difficult and it will not be easy to continue balancing your own needs as a carer with those of your family and the person with the illness.

As a carer, you can take care of yourself by being open about what help you need now, and planning ahead for what help you may need in the future. You need a break too and there is a wide range of support available to ensure you can continue as best you can.

It is important that carers take a break from care giving to avoid becoming worn down. Support and respite care are available for carers and can provide comfort and practical assistance, as we see every day with some of our clients.

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Life Can Be A Balancing Act

Poor balance can be a persistent problem for so many people, triggering many falls as the years go by. In young, healthy adults, balance is largely an automatic reflex and taken for granted. However, gradual changes linked to growing older such as weak or inflexible muscles, slower reflexes, and worsening eyesight affect the sense of balance. Certain health problems such as inner ear disorders, neuropathy, and heart rhythm disturbances may upset balance, too. So can excessive consumption of alcohol and many medications. Perhaps it’s not surprising that every year, at least one out of three people over age 65 falls down causing injury.Beware-Recognize-The-Attack-Vertigo-Symptoms

Unstable balance can spur a downward spiral. Often, people begin moving around less during the day, voluntarily cutting back activities. Confidence dips, muscles essential to balance grow weaker still, and unsteadiness rises in response. So does fear of falling and falls.  A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand or ankle, which can lead to hospital stays, disability, loss of independence and even death.

With practice, almost anyone can achieve better balance. Strong legs and flexible ankles help prevent falls and allow you to catch yourself if you do trip. What’s more, the full blend of recommended activities can help you build better awareness of your body and surroundings, boost your confidence, and tune up your heart and lungs to keep you healthy and independent.

The Most Common Types of Balance Problems are:

  • Vertigo.  A sensation that everything around you is spinning or moving, or that you yourself are spinning around.
  • Lightheadedness or “near fainting” (presyncope).  A feeling of weakness, or dizziness.
  • Unsteadiness.  A feeling of imbalance, disorientation, and occasionally a loss of your sense of time, or place.

Simple Balance Exercises – if the balancing issue is not tied to illness, medication or some other specific cause, simple exercises can help preserve and improve your balance. Some basic exercises you can do anytime include:

  • One-legged stands: Stand on one foot for 30 seconds, or longer, then switch to the other foot. You can do this while brushing your teeth or waiting around somewhere. In the beginning, you might need to have a wall or chair to hold on to.
  • Heel rises: While standing, rise up on your toes as far as you can. Then drop back to the starting position and repeat the process 10 to 20 times. You can make this more difficult by holding light hand weights.
  • Heel-toe walk: Take 20 steps while looking straight ahead. Think of a field sobriety test.
  • Sit-to-stand: Without using your hands, get up from a straight-backed chair and sit back down 10 to 20 times. This improves balance and leg strength.

It is certainly clear that without full balance, one’s confidence and quality of life can be compromised so rather than taking it for granted, it needs to be valued.

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Living In The Darkness

It is usually not until you lose something that you begin to appreciate what you had. The simple everyday things we just take for granted. The senses that let us fully enjoy our daily lives. To enjoy the taste of your dinner tonight, the scent of spring flowers in the air, the sounds of your favourite band and the joy of seeing your loved one.living in darkness

So imagine the difficulty many people face when they lose their sight and now living in darkness every day; or perhaps have never known what a world of colour could offer. Especially more difficult when they have experienced sight earlier in life; apart from physical struggles, they often endure emotional struggles accepting their new status.

They may not know for sure what they look like now, what the new hair cut or a new outfit looks like on them. What do their friends look like? What colour is that flower?

For someone whom has lost their sight, they will have to rely upon other senses to guide them. Their friends are recognised by their voices. Fireworks are noisy and seem exciting but they may only see the bright spark in the sky, not able to recognise the bursts of colour and pretty shapes from the fireworks. They need to heighten their senses particularly hearing and touch to be able to navigate around their world. Being blind can be challenging but technology can assist them.

We need to talk to the person to describe the place you are going, the meal you are eating, the surroundings, the movie etc. and remember, they have feelings too so it is important to talk to the person and not around them i.e. “Does he want to drink something?” Rather ask “Would you like something to drink?” They still having hearing!

Technology is helping to read a computer screen, there are audio programs available which can read aloud. This opens up career opportunities for those unable to see what is before them. People with vision loss either partial or totally, the standard personal computer may be one of the most useful tools ever invented. With a little effort, they can browse their way around the internet, pay bills online and do shopping or even undertake a course by the use of software installed to further enhance the experience and make it possible.

Assistance dogs have certainly made mobility an easier prospect for blind people today. They can give the person their independence and a loyal companion. It will help the person feel more comfortable and safely confident about their life.

Modifying the home to ensure the person is safe in their castle is vital to allow them to remain independent and in control. If they have low vision, it may just be using contrasting colours to define dark and light, maybe installing brighter light bulbs, replacing the sheer curtains with blinds to cut down on glare or marking the edges of steps with brightly coloured tape or paint to make them easier to see. These simple modifications can reduce the risk of falling.

Keeping social and active – There are many recreation and leisure activities that can be adapted for people who are blind or have low vision, or for seniors who are losing their sight. They may want to return to an activity they’ve always enjoyed, or maybe try something new, challenging, and altogether different, such as Scrabble, running, or tandem biking. Being blind doesn’t mean they can’t be social.

Transportation will need some assistance to enable a blind person to enjoy the freedom of getting about. Public buses should have accessible spaces for those persons and always offer a helping hand. Or they may prefer to utilise an organisation to provide personalised transport to and from appointments or shopping outings.

Not quite the retirement plan you had in mind? The time to retire has arrived and perhaps they have looked forward to this time for years and planned on enjoying vacations or activities such as fishing, bowling, bingo, caravanning or reading. But they may be concerned about retirement and the “big changes” that they didn’t see coming. Perhaps their finding that their vision is not quite it used to be. For many of us, the ageing process is not so kind and we find our eyesight fading faster than a setting sun. Sadly, this is sometimes beyond just needing stronger glasses. If they are lucky to still have a sight-able person at home, then the time in the family home without extra assistance maybe possible but as time goes on, even the other person may need to seek assistance and a break from caring for their partner. If the person lives alone, then seeking assistance with everyday activities will allow them to stay independent for much longer. Vision loss can greatly affect the participation levels and safety of seniors experiencing difficulties with their vision due to age-related conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts or macular degeneration. But it doesn’t mean the end of enjoying a full life and isolating themselves.

Living in the darkness of low vision or blindness can come with some obstacles to overcome but with some modifications to lifestyle and support, they can still enjoy a full and happy life. The importance of having support surrounding you cannot be understated.




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Understanding Depression

It is very normal to experience emotional ups and downs during our life. We often refer to that as having “the blues”. But when it just won’t go away, you may have depression. Understanding the signs and treatment options is a good start to curing the problem.

With some illnesses the diagnosis will have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward and straight out of the text book. If you have diabetes, then you take insulin. If you have appendicitis, you will have to have surgery. But with depression, it is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it’s not simply cured with medication. Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. So your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much, if not more, than genetics. However, certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression.

Finding the cause

  • Lack of social supportdepression
  • Loneliness
  • Recent stressful life experiences
  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Financial strain
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unemployment
  • Health problems or chronic pain

When you understand the cause, you can prescribe the treatment and start to overcome the problem.  Perhaps if you are depressed because of a dead end job, the best treatment might be finding a more satisfying career, not taking an antidepressant. If you are new to an area and feeling lonely and sad, finding new friends at work or through a hobby will probably give you more of a mood boost than going to therapy. In such cases, the depression is remedied by changing the situation.

But not all cases of depression are able to be overcome that easily. Just as the symptoms and causes of depression are different in different people, so are the ways to feel better. What works for one person might not work for another, and no one treatment is appropriate in all cases. You may need time to explore all the treatment options for a suffer because the result will vary accordingly. In most cases, the best approach involves a combination of social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building, and professional help. Feeling helpless and hopeless is a symptom of depression and not the reality of your situation.

For some sufferers, getting out of “the black hole” just seems impossible and panic may set in. For most cases, just talking about the depression and your emotions will aid in acknowledging the problem and finding a solution. Often it is preferred that you talk to a third party that is not emotionally invested in you. Being isolated and withdrawing from the world will only fuel the problem. Most people are happy to help you talk about a problem and will feel elated that you entrusted them.

Diet, sleep and exercise are positive attributes towards recovery.  Learning to relax and stop stressing about the things you can’t control will help. But most of all, surround yourself with people that care, someone to share the burden, and reassurance that you will get through this and everything will be OK soon.

A combination of medication and therapy may be required to help you overcome the depression.  Use the medication with your doctor’s supervision, but they aren’t necessarily a cure on their own and they come with drawbacks of their own. It might pay to weigh up the benefits v’s the risks and make your assessment then. You are recommended to seek professional assistance if medication alone cannot help.

Types of depression

  • Dysthmia is a type of chronic “low-grade” depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood.
  • Major depression is the darkest hole to fall into and can stay there for months at a time. Often it is reoccurring.
  • Bipolar also known as manic depression, is characterised by cycling mood changes. Episodes of depression alternate with manic episodes, which can include impulsive behaviour, hyperactivity, rapid speech, and little to no sleep. Usually medications is not advised.

The main thing to remember, there is support available and you are not alone. Depression can be debilitating if left untreated but there a thousands of sufferers. You just have to reach out.

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