Are you a caregiver? Whether you’re a professional caregiver that works with a hospice, nursing home, or agency, or you’re someone caring for a housebound loved one, it’s hard work.
Unfortunately, because of the intensity of the job, caregiver burnout is common. When a caregiver is under too much stress without enough help, they may start breaking down.
If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of caregiver burnout, we want to keep you informed. Keep reading to learn all about severe caregiver burnout and what you can do to prevent or fix it.
What Is Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is what happens when a caregiver becomes too exhausted and stressed to do their job. Because caregiving is so complex, it often results in physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion all at once.
Because of the pressure that caregivers face, there isn’t often enough support or resources. It exacerbates the problem. After a while, caregivers may become numb, apathetic, or emotionally volatile.
Why Does It Happen?
There is an overwhelming amount of responsibility and pressure that caregivers put on themselves (and others expect of them). Caring for another person, especially another adult, is challenging. The pressure to provide care is heightened when the person under their care is a family member.
If someone is caregiving for a parent or grandparent, this sudden reversal of roles can be overwhelming. Even caring for a partner can be confusing because the roles have to shift.
Caregivers often receive unreasonable demands from the people they care for, the people’s families, or themselves. These demands are often far beyond the caregiver’s capabilities, but they still feel the need to meet them.
Some caregivers burn out because they feel as though they aren’t doing enough. Caregivers aren’t there to improve the health of the person in their care. They’re there to offer support.
If someone isn’t improving, or they’re deteriorating, the caregiver may feel responsible.
Most caregivers aren’t great at taking care of themselves due to the amount of care they have to give others. This lack of self-care contributes to burnout.
What Are the Signs of Caregiver Burnout?
So what does caregiver burnout look like anyway? Whether this is for yourself or you’re noticing signs in someone else, there are a few things that you can look out for.
- Emotional. The caregiver may feel sad, listless, and irritable more often than usual. They may have wild emotional outbursts or a seeming lack of emotions at all.
- Withdrawal. Caregivers may start to withdraw from the people and activities that they enjoy. It may take too much energy to engage in these things, or they may lose interest entirely.
- Physical. Caregiver may start experiencing physical symptoms of stress, such as fatigue, headaches, or body aches. They may have trouble sleeping or get sick more often than usual.
- Mental. In severe cases, the caregiver may start having intrusive thoughts about hurting themself or the people that they’re caring for. These thoughts aren’t malicious, but they’re dangerous.
Can You Prevent Caregiver Burnout?
Caregiver burnout is preventable even though it’s common. Many caregivers don’t know prevention methods until it’s too late.
Preventing caregiver burnout can start with establishing a good support network. It’s essential to have friends and peers to talk to when you’re doing such a difficult job.
It’s also important for caregivers to seek other professionals when they start feeling stressed or tired. Other caregivers understand how difficult it is to care for someone full-time. There are respite care options, local organizations for caregiving, and other professional caregivers that you can hire part-time.
Caregivers also need to be realistic when it comes to goals, intentions, and abilities. They can educate themselves about the illness they’re working with, set expectations, and try to understand (and accept) that sometimes a “bad” outcome is unavoidable.
Caregivers should keep themselves healthy while they’re working. Eating well, sleeping, and exercising will help reduce overall stress levels.
When Should You Reach Out for Help?
It’s hard to know when you’re experiencing the early stages of caregiver burnout vs. general caregiver stress. How do you know when it’s time to reach out for help?
Take a look at the symptoms above. How many of them apply to you?
Some of these symptoms are normal without burnout, but if you experience two or more, it may be time to reach out to someone who can help you. If you’re feeling like you’re no longer able to give care, try to reach out for help first instead of quitting.
In other words, if you’re starting to feel like the situation is no longer in your control, seeking help is appropriate.
What Should You Do to Recover?
There are many things that you can do to help recover from burnout. If you care for a loved one, give yourself a break by utilizing respite care. Even taking a short time away from caregiving can refresh you enough to get back to work.
It’s a good idea to seek professional help for your mental health. Many people benefit from counseling, therapy, medication, and other alternative mental health treatments (such as TMS). Burnout can lead to depression, anxiety, and more, so treat it as any other mental health issue.
Caregivers should also start developing coping mechanisms and practicing self-care. Start learning about breathing exercises, distractions that work for you, and your favorite methods to decompress.
Are You Experiencing Caregiver Burnout?
If all of this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing caregiver burnout. Don’t worry; some resources can help you.
Caregiving is difficult and often thankless. You’re doing a fantastic thing, and it’s normal to need help and support. When you take care of your own physical and mental health, you’ll be better able to take care of others.
If you’re ready to start taking control of your mental health, consider trying TMS alongside counseling. Our mental health professionals want to help you avoid and heal burnout.
Contact us at Brain Center TMS for a free consultation today and start taking your life back.