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Caregivers Often Get Depressed, but There's an App for That

02/20/2015 12:59 EST | Updated 04/22/2015 05:59 EDT
Blend Images - Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images

You sacrifice sleep and a social life to care for your loved one.

You frantically try to balance work and the partner or parent you have waiting at home. You feel stressed, guilty, angry, unbearably exhausted. And it's been going on for years.

Because of the tremendous load caregivers sometimes take on, they are more likely than their non-carer counterparts to develop mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 40 to 70 per cent of family caregivers have significant symptoms of depression, with about a quarter to half of them meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.

If you feel debilitated, anxious or depressed, remember: you are absolutely not alone.

In the event you suspect you might be experiencing depression, anxiety or another mental health issue, you should speak to a health care professional. That being said, some days you need support, but can't make it to your doctor right away.

These websites and apps aim to make those days more manageable.

MoodGYM:

This Australian website is designed to help you take charge of your depression and anxiety. Using five different modules along with interactive games, guided relation and a feedback assessment, MoodGYM teaches the basics of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. (CBT is a common treatment option for depression and anxiety which focuses largely on the relationship between thoughts and emotions.)

Basically, the idea behind the app is to help you recognize negative, anxious or overwhelming thoughts, and teach you to manage them instead of letting them snowball.

There's no mobile version of the site available as of yet. But anyone with a computer can access it online. It's a popular tool: So far, over 800,000 people from 222 countries are registered to use MoodGYM.

Headspace:

Feeling stressed? This meditation app is designed to help users take a mindful approach to several key areas in their lives, like stress, creativity, focus, anxiety and relationships. It's available for both phones and computers for those will old-school cells. Mindfulness has been proven to benefit both those with dementia and their caregivers.

The app offers a free 10-day trial, where users can learn meditation techniques. This feature is great for time-strapped caregivers, since it only requires 10 minutes per day. After the trial, you'll need to subscribe. That'll give you access to hours of simple and straightforward videos and audio meditation.

Bonus: Headspace features friendly little animations to guide you through your practice. They are extremely cute and fantastically non-clinical looking. Finally.

Man Therapy:

If you're looking to find some support, but can't stand to read another webpage with sappy stock photos of a way-too-handsome guy looking into the sky, Man Therapy might be for you. The site offers an approach to mental well-being that is at once humorous and practical, and strives to convince users that there's no shame in a man's man looking for support.

Once at the site, "Dr. Rich Mahogany," a crass narrator with a mustache and a penchant for taxidermy animal heads, guides you through the resources available.

While much of the site is tongue-in-cheek, the supports it offers are helpful: a test to evaluate your own well-being, a list of activities that can be done at home to improve your mental health and a tool to help you find support groups or therapists in your area, among others.

By: Megan Jones

This story was originally published on Alzlive.com, a website for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and dementia. For more tips, answer and support, visit the site here.

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