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Depression Care Plan

Thursday, September 9, 2021

When you began serving your loved one as a CDPAP caregiver, you were ready to help with physical tasks. However, managing mental health issues is just as important as assisting with physical needs. If your loved one has depression, you need to develop a care plan to help manage the symptoms.

First, it’s important to identify the signs, symptoms, and types of depression. Then, learn about treatment goals and plans and what you can do to help.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

As a CDPAP caregiver, you need to know the signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly. This is the first step in identifying the problem so you can get help for your loved one. According to the National Institute on Aging, symptoms include:

·        Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiousness, or emptiness

·        Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, or guilt

·        Irritability

·        Restlessness

·        Low energy

·        Fatigue

·        Slow movements and speech

·        Problems concentrating

·        Memory issues

·        Problems making decisions

·        Sleeping difficulties

·        Unexplained aches and pains, including headaches

·        Overeating or loss of appetite

·        Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

·        Thoughts of suicide

·        Suicide attempts

If you notice some symptoms, you’ll need to consider the type of depression your loved one has.

Types of Depression

Depression is a catchall term used to describe various types of depressed moods. Knowing the type of depression is vital for providing proper support and getting your loved one the right treatment.

Anxious Distress

Anxious distress depression makes people feel like they’re losing control. It can feel like the world is closing in, and something terrible can happen at any time. The tension and fear can cause restlessness and makes it hard to concentrate.

Mixed Features

Your loved one could also have a depressive disorder with mixed features. If that’s the case, your family member will experience depression and mania at the same time. While most of the symptoms will relate to depression, manic symptoms like racing thoughts can occur.

Melancholic Features

If your loved one lacks enthusiasm, it could be due to depression with melancholic features. While melancholy is typical with depression, people who suffer from this particular condition even feel down when something good happens.

The depression is normally worse in the morning, making it hard to get started for the day. Also, you can expect your loved one to experience weight loss and poor sleep. Unfortunately, suicidal thoughts are also common.

Atypical Features

Most people who suffer from depression have persistent feelings of sadness. However, depression with atypical features is a bit different. Your loved one might temporarily come out of the sadness after experiencing something positive, such as good news.

There are some other signs to look out for if you think your loved one has atypical depression. With this condition, an increased appetite and sleeping too much are both common. Also, he or she might be more sensitive than usual to criticism.

Your loved one might experience physical symptoms as well. In many instances, people who suffer from atypical depression complain of heaviness in the arms and legs that makes it hard to move.

Psychotic Features

Depression with psychotic features can feel like two conditions in one. Your loved one will have symptoms of depression, along with hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia.


If your loved one has catatonic depression, he or she won’t have normal control over movements. Your loved one might not move or speak for some time. Also, fast and abnormal movements are common.

Peripartum Onset

During your time as a CDPAP caregiver, you likely won’t encounter someone with peripartum depression. This condition is triggered by childbirth and generally lasts weeks or months.

Seasonal Pattern

Seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal pattern depression, is most common in the winter. The short days mean less sunlight, which can cause people to become depressed. However, because it’s seasonal, people generally feel better once spring arrives.

After evaluating the type of depression, it’s time to consider treatment goals.

Treatment Goals for Depression

You’re part of your loved one’s care team, so you need to identify treatment goals. Let’s go over important goals for treatment, starting with reducing the symptoms.

Reduce the Symptoms of Depression

First, treatment should reduce the symptoms of depression. You want your loved one to move past the symptoms and start enjoying life again.

Improve Ability to Function

Depression makes it hard to function in all environments. With the right treatment, your loved one will function better at home. Also, if your client still works in some capacity, he or she should experience improved function at work.

Reduce the Risk of Suicide

The possibility of suicide is the most frightening aspect of caring for a loved one with depression. Reducing the risk of suicide should be a top priority during treatment.

Prevent Depression from Returning

Finally, you want to prevent the depression from returning. Sadly, some people fail to continue with treatment once the depression is under control. Then, the symptoms reappear, sometimes worse than they were before. You can work with your loved one and his or her providers to prevent the depression from returning.

With that in mind, let’s look at treatment options for depression.

Treatment for Depression

If you go to the doctor for a broken bone, you’ll get a cast and maybe have surgery. The treatment is pretty straightforward, and you can begin recovering immediately.

Treating depression is a bit different. Often, treatments have to be combined to get the best results. Also, it can take time for the treatment to work.


Doctors often prescribe medications to treat geriatric depression. These medications increase neurotransmitter activity, lifting the depressed mood. Most often, geriatric patients are prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, doctors have other options as well, including selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.


Your loved one’s doctor might also recommend psychotherapy. Also known as counseling, psychotherapy helps people identify their emotions and behaviors and find new ways to cope. Your family members can attend psychotherapy with a:

·        Psychologist

·        Licensed clinical social worker

·        Psychiatrist

Before choosing a provider, discuss the approach that will work best for your loved one. Many people respond well to cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches them how to change their thought patterns.

Increased Activity

Research has shown that exercise alleviates the symptoms of chronic depression. Something as simple as walking can have a positive impact. Thus, regular exercise should be a part of your client’s treatment plan.

First, have the doctor clear your loved one for exercise. Next, find out what exercises he or she can safely engage in, and then create a routine.

Medical Follow-up

Your loved one needs to follow up with the doctor every one to two weeks at the beginning of treatment. Then, the provider can evaluate the treatment to see if it’s working.

Also, suicide risk can increase in the early stages of treatment. As people begin to get better, they feel more energized. Sometimes, that means they’ll act on impulses that they didn’t act on before. The physician can evaluate your loved one for suicide risk during follow-up appointments.

You can also take steps to help your loved one.

Tips for Caring for Someone With Depression

While you will face some challenges when caring for a loved one with depression, you can minimize them by following some tips. Let’s look at some ways you can help care for your loved one, starting with using the right tone to communicate. 

Use the Proper Tone

The tone you use is important when helping someone with depression. You want to display calmness and firmness, and you also need to make sure your loved one understands you. Thus, use a tone that is:

·        Low

·        Firm

·        Slow-paced

Encourage Communication

People who are depressed tend to hold things inside, making the feelings worse. You can help your loved one open up by asking open-ended questions or leading statements. This strategy often gets people to open up about their feelings. That can help them manage and overcome their symptoms. 

Set Boundaries

Caring for someone with depression can be hard on your own mental health. It’s possible to get so caught up in caring for a depressed loved one that you forget to care for yourself. That puts both you and the client at risk. When you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t care for the client, so setting boundaries is necessary.

First, you need to set aside time for yourself each day. Once you clear your schedule, stick to it. This might mean you need to arrange another caregiver for your loved one if he or she requires around-the-clock care. However, it’s worth the effort to get much-needed alone time.

Second, set boundaries regarding treatment. Your loved one needs to stick with treatment to get better. Let your loved one know that going to treatment is a must so you can continue providing care. Otherwise, he or she might have to go to a facility to get help.

Don’t use this as a threat, though. Instead, you just need to explain that sticking to the treatment plan is necessary for their condition to improve.

Third, don’t let your loved one verbally or physically abuse you. Unfortunately, this can happen when caring for people with depression, and setting firm boundaries is essential.

Be Patient and Empathetic

Depression is a mental health condition, and your loved one cannot help going through it. While treatment can help, your loved one still might suffer from bouts of depression from time to time. Empathize with your loved one and exhibit patience. Empathy and patience will help your loved one understand you are on his or her team.

Encourage Hygiene and Self-care

Depression can impact self-care and hygiene. When people are depressed, they’re less likely to do the little things, which can worsen the situation.

Explain to your loved one that overcoming depression often starts with self-care. Remind your family members to do the things that matter. If necessary, set a schedule for hygiene and self-care. 

Be Calm and Supportive

If your family member has angry outbursts as a result of depression, remain calm and supportive. Getting angry too will escalate the situation. Instead, let your loved one know that you emphasize and understand that he or she is going through a difficult time. Keep your voice and demeanor calm and help them get into a better headspace.

Include Behavior Modification Techniques

You can use behavior modification techniques to help change your loved one’s mindset. First, praise your loved one’s strengths and accomplishments. Do this daily so it will eventually change your client’s mindset. This can be extremely beneficial since it’s hard for people with depression to recognize their successes.

You can also help modify behavior through meditation. Meditation helps people practice mindfulness, which allows them to focus on the present. Depression and other mental health conditions worsen when worrying about the past or the future. Thus, mindfulness is very effective.  

Help the Client Feel that Life Is Worth Living

When people are depressed, they often feel as if life isn’t worth living. They are so unhappy that it’s hard to find meaning. You can show your loved one that it’s worth living by helping him or her find a purpose.

There are lots of ways to find a purpose in life. First, engaging in activities they love can help people identify a purpose. This can be challenging when someone is depressed. Withdrawing is normal, so try to ease the client back into social situations.

Joining a group can also help depressed people find purpose in life. Some seniors meet each week to play cards, while others go birding together. There are so many ways your loved one can connect through groups.

You can also help your client find purpose in life by creating art, writing, or making music. Also, learning new things is helpful. There are lots of online learning opportunities that your loved one can explore.

If your family member already excels at something, he or she can pass the skills down to others as a way of finding purpose in life. Plus, this is a fantastic way to build a long-lasting legacy.

Help Your Client Through Depression

Depression is taxing on both the client and the caregiver. However, you can alleviate some of the stress you feel by using a depression care plan. Work with other providers to help your loved one get the necessary treatment. Then, he or she can manage their symptoms and embrace life once again.