What are the Signs of Caregiver Stress?

As a caregiver, you may have heard warnings about “caregiver burnout” or stress. When you’re faced with the many tasks of caregiving day to day, it may be hard to differentiate between simple everyday challenges and chronic, long-term stress that can pose risks to your well-being and affect the quality of care you provide to your loved one. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need or try to do more than they are able, according to WebMD.

Knowing the signs of caregiver stress may help you stay attuned to your person tips on well-being so you can know when to ask for help and take a break.

Anger and irritability

Caregiving takes an immense amount of patience, and it’s normal to lose it every once in awhile. But when you start snapping at your loved one or other people on a regular basis or over small, inconsequential issues, it may be a sign that you are overwhelmed, AARP reports.

Social withdrawal and loneliness

You may be busy at home caring for your loved one, but if you no longer care about getting together with neighbors or staying in touch with friends, it is likely a sign of stress and being burned out, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Exhaustion and sleeplessness

Being tired is normal for most caregivers, since the job is seldom a cake walk. But extreme exhaustion is a sign of caregiver burnout, especially when paired with troubled sleeping. If you lie down at night and can’t fall asleep because of a constant stream of worries or thoughts about things you need to do, it’s probably a sign that you need a break.

Anxiety and depression

Worrying can take a serious toll on your health. When you feel hopeless, sad, helpless and anxious all the time, you may be suffering from depression, which can also make the caregiving tasks you have to do that much more difficult.

If you are experiencing symptoms of caregiver stress or burnout, it is important you seek help right away. This could mean joining a caregiver support group to discuss some of the challenges you are facing in your work, or looking into respite care options for your loved one so you can take a break and do something for yourself.

In taking a break, you may be able to better manage your personal expectations for care with reality, and set realistic goals for each day. Using respite care or asking others to help you may also make the job more manageable in the long run, and prevent another onslaught of stress or burnout.