Caregiver burnout is a state of exhaustion physically, mentally and emotionally. A shift in attitude often occurs in burnout from favorable and caring to negative and indifferent. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t receive the assistance they need, or when they attempt to do more physically or financially than they can afford.
Also, many caregivers feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their loved ones who may be sick or elderly. Burned-out caregivers may often experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Caregiving demands can be overwhelming, particularly if you think you’re in over your head or have little control over the situation. If the stress of providing care is left unchecked, the burnout of the caregiver will eventually take a toll on your health, relationships, and overall state of mind. It is virtually impossible to do anything when you’re feeling burned out, let alone assume responsibility for the care and wellbeing of someone else. That’s why it is not a luxury to take care of yourself; it is a necessity.
If you don’t get the physical and emotional support you need, the stress of caregiving can make you susceptible to a broad spectrum of issues, including depression, anxiety, and ultimately burnout. At that point, both you and the person you care for will most likely suffer. It is essential to manage the stress levels in your life as making sure your family member gets to their doctor’s appointment or takes their medication. There are plenty of things caregivers can do to ease stress levels, avoid caregiver burnout, and start feeling positive and hopeful again, no matter how stressful the caregiving responsibilities or how bleak your situation appears.
The following are some of the more common symptoms of caregiver burnout.
- You have much less energy.
- Your own health is deteriorating. For instance, you easily catch a cold or a bout of flu, experience elevated blood pressure or have injured yourself when trying to transfer your loved one into a wheelchair.
- You’re always exhausted, even after you sleep or have a break.
- You ignore your own needs, either because you are too busy or because you are no longer concerned.
- Caregiving gives you little satisfaction even if your life revolves around it.
- You have difficulty relaxing, even if assistance is accessible.
- You become unusually impatient, irritable, or argumentative with either the person you’re caring for or with others, or both.
- You sometimes feel alienated, helpless and hopeless.
- You withdraw yourself from your family, friends, and loved ones.
- You are more easily irritated and frustrated or become angry with petty situations.
- Your gentle, unhurried strategy to caregiving is diminishing or simply disappearing.
- You raise your voice more often at your loved one, then feel angry with yourself and guilty later.
- Your family experiences dysfunction and your care for your loved one may actually cause harm to your family.
- You tend to miss or forget appointments.
- You lose interest in activities you once enjoyed.
- You begin to exhibit feelings of wanting to cause harm to yourself or your loved one.
- You have difficulty in concentrating.
- You notice a change in your sleep pattern.
- You feel anxious about your future.
- Your ability to be compassionate diminishes.
- You overreact to criticism.