Caregiving is a noble gift we give to our love ones, it is a role that many of us will play at some point in our lives. It does however, have an inherit risk of leaving us feeling overwhelmed. This is often called “Burn-out”, burn-out occurs when we begin to neglect our own needs and become overwhelmed with the care of another. We begin to feel that we have no control, we put our own needs aside which can often lead to us feeling overwhelmed and have difficulties coping with day to day activities which previously we could handle. Burn-out is described as a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
Health care providers can also experience “burn-out” and left untreated can lead to compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue occurs when we start to absorb the trauma , and emotional stressors of others. Early symptoms of compassion fatigue often involves intense tension or extensive preoccupation with the cognitive, physical, and emotional pain and suffering of others.
Burn-out and compassion fatigue can negatively impact our personal, social and occupational functioning, and psychological health such as anxiety, hyper alertness, feelings of depression, difficult social relationships, and potential for substance abuse to numb the feelings.
Recognizing early warning signs, and seeking early intervention is important.
- lack of interest in usual activities
- sleep problems (too much or too little)
- changes in eating habits; weight loss or gain
- neglecting your own physical and emotional needs