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I'm caring for both my parents and some days I'm so stressed I don't want to do anything but cry! Should I see a doctor for depression?


Question:  I live with and take care of both my parents because my dad has lung cancer and my mom has brain cancer. Some days I am so stressed I don't want to do anything but cry! I have two brothers and a sister but I am their only care taker. I also have three children, ages 15, 10 and 7. I wonder if I should see a doctor for depression?

Dr. Amy:  You are coping with a great deal. You have young children who need your time and attention. Both of your parents are very ill. And you seem to be carrying the load all by yourself. It's completely normal that you have strong feelings. Crying is normal and healthy; it's one of nature's ways of relieving stress. 

At the same time, it's clear that you need help and support. I'm sorry to hear that your brothers and sister aren't helping. I encourage you to set aside some quiet time to talk with them about all of the caregiving tasks that need doing, and ask which ones they might be able to help with. I am not sure from your letter whether they live nearby or are too far away to help with everyday tasks. Even if they live out of state, there are still ways in which they can help.

I encourage you to talk to your doctor and see what he or she has to say.  A caregiver support group can also help you deal with the emotions you are feeling. And I encourage you to reach out to your friends. Perhaps they can take care of your parents while you go to the support group meetings. Sometimes we feel awkward asking for help. Don't! People are very willing to help - but if you don't ask, they may just assume you have everything under control.

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