Just as our parents cared for us when we were infants, many of us find ourselves caring for our elderly parents or loved ones later in life.
As painful as it is, that’s the circle of life.
Some of us may also find ourselves in a caregiving role for children or partners with disabilities or injuries, which can take a toll on our mental health and well being.
Caregiving can present some significant challenges, can be very painful emotionally, and can lead to physical and mental exhaustion.
That’s why, when you’re caregiving for others, it’s so vitally important that you find your own support and care.
You don’t have to do it alone.
We all need support, and especially when so much of our time and energy are spent supporting.
While there is great meaning in having the ability to support a loved one, sometimes the stress can accumulate over time to the point that it has a significant impact on our mental and physical health.
CAREGIVERS MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH RISKS
- 80% of caregivers say they feel a great deal of stress
- 50% suffer from clinical depression
- Anxiety is higher in caregivers than non-caregivers
- Caregivers report they experience more physical health problems
- Strained caregiver spouses are at increased risk of dying
- Caregivers have poorer immune system function and slower healing of wounds
- Caregivers experience more colds and other viral illnesses
Caregivers can also go through financial instability due to expenses, not accepting promotions, and working less due to continuous care of their loved one.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then it’s time to seek help so you can fully evaluate and resolve your situation, restoring a sense of peace, balance, and vitality to your life.
CAREGIVER BURNOUT AND MENTAL HEALTH SYMPTOMS
- Feeling sad, down, depressed or hopeless
- Loss of energy
- Lack of interest in activities/thing that used to give you pleasure
- Feeling resentful toward the older adult that you are caring for
- Feeling that people ask more of you than they should
- Feeling like caregiving has affected family relationships in a profoundly negative way
- Being upset by other family members who don’t help as much as you do
- Becoming upset by arguments with others about your situation
- Withdrawing yourself from your family, friends, and other loved ones because you don’t want anything to get in the way of you caring for your loved one
- Experiencing a change in your sleep pattern; you might end up staying up late at night to care for your loved one so your sleep pattern could change to match theirs
- Turning to alcohol or drugs to cope, or even abusing sleep medications if you are extremely sleep deprived
This constellation of symptoms is sometimes known as “caregiver burnout.”
It’s a state of exhaustion when you bite off more than you can chew by trying to do more, physically, mentally, or even financially, than you are capable of.
To avoid these risks, it’s extremely important to get enough exercise and sleep, know your limits, establish healthy boundaries, practice self-care, and acknowledge how you feel as a caregiver.
For caregiving to be sustainable, it’s vital that you care for yourself as much as you care for your loved one.
CAUSES OF CAREGIVER BURNOUT
Listed below are some factors that can lead to caregiver burnout:
- Unrealistic expectations
- You might expect that everything you do will make your loved one feel better, or make their illness go away. However, if your loved one has a disease that decreases mental functioning, such as Alzheimer’s, you may not be able to help them get better. Instead, you can just be a method of support for them. Expecting to be able to heal their condition can lead to shame, depression, and anxiety.
- Uncontrollable circumstances
- You might get understandably frustrated with not being able to provide the best care for your loved one, or even get frustrated that you don’t have enough resources or money to assist them. You must remember, however, that you are doing the most you can with what you have.
- Demands that can be unreasonable
- Sometimes the person who you’re caring for or others in your life might put unreasonable demands on you––and sometimes you even place them on yourself, even though you might not have a support system you need to meet those demands.
- Confusion of your role
- If you are caring for a loved one, you might have a hard time separating your role as a caretaker from your role as a spouse, sibling, parent, or child, which can make it difficult to know how to interact with the person you’re caring for and may create complicated and confusing relationships.
Where does one find the strength to be there for someone while also taking care of themself?
By receiving support from others.
When shouldering so much, we can’t do it alone.
And we don’t have to.
Together, we will find the right balance so you can support yourself and your loved one.
OUR THERAPY METHODS FOR CAREGIVERS
Therapy can successfully improve your life by helping you minimize your anxiety, identifying and changing underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to your struggles, and providing you with strategies to decrease discomfort while restoring an overall sense of peace.
Our evidence-based, scientifically proven interventions are demonstrated by research to be effective in addressing mental health issues commonly faced by caregivers such as anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Learn more about our empirically based therapy modalities by visiting our Methods page.
WANT TO TALK? SPEAK WITH A CAREGIVER THERAPY EXPERT NOW
If you have any questions, contact one of our caregiving specialists for a free consultation any time.