Being a caregiver is a very important job that requires a lot of skill, effort, and time from you, the caregiver. Sometimes, spending that much energy on someone else’s needs can cause you to neglect your own needs. The symptoms of caregiver burnout vary and are very similar to symptoms of depression, including feelings of stress, sadness, and guilt. Know the symptoms of caregiver burnout so you can watch out for them. Know the causes so you can try to prevent it. If ignored, caregiver burnout can become clinical anxiety or depression. You should always seek help from a medical professional if you have reached that point. Some of the more common symptoms of caregiver burnout are:
- Feeling overly stressed, overwhelmed
- Extreme fatigue; feeling emotionally and/or physically exhausted
- Feeling sad, helpless, hopeless, or guilty
- Changes in appetite; rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive sleeping
Caregiver burnout can happen for a number of different reasons. Some of the more common reasons are role confusion, unrealistic expectations, and being overwhelmed by the daily frustrations that come with being a caregiver. Being a caregiver can be emotionally and physically draining. Though it is a rewarding and worthwhile job overall, it can sometimes feel like a thankless job.
If you are just starting to experience caregiver burnout, there are things that you can do to help ease the symptoms or to prevent burnout entirely. Take some time for yourself every day. You cannot take care of others unless you are healthy yourself. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, find someone to talk to. Open up to a friend, a family member, clergy member, or find someone in an online support group. Those people are ready and willing to help you take care of yourself. Caregivers need caregivers, too.
Be realistic about the health of the person for whom you are caring. Accept the reality of their symptoms and their medical needs. Know your limits, both physically and emotionally. Feelings of frustration, confusion, and anger are all common emotions that caregivers experience, and it is ok to have those feelings. If you are feeling very overwhelmed, it is always possible that the person you are caring for needs more than you can give them. If you recognize that you are in a situation that you cannot handle any longer, it is ok to seek out other options, such as an assisted living community or a home health aide. You always have options. If caregiver burnout has turned into something more serious like clinical depression or anxiety, seek out a medical professional immediately. You are not alone. Posted by Kendra Newton on Jan 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM. Our good friends at The Cottages have given us permission to share this information with you. Please let us know if you find it beneficial. -Paul Plant