Emotional Signs of Caregiver Stress

While caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it also involves many stressors. And since caregiving is often a long-term challenge, the emotional impact can snowball over time. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening if you feel that you’re in over your head, if there’s no hope that your family member will get better, or if, despite your best efforts, their condition is gradually deteriorating.

If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout, a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. And when you get to that point, both you and the person you’re caring for suffering.

That’s why taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Cultivating your own emotional and physical well-being is just as important as making sure your family member gets to their doctor’s appointment or takes their medication on time.

Signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout

Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout is important, so you can take immediate action to prevent things from becoming worse and start improving the situation for both you and the person you’re caring for.

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress

  • Anxiety, depression, irritability.

  • Feeling tired and run down.

  • Difficulty sleeping.

  • Overreacting to minor nuisances.

  • New or worsening health problems.

  • Trouble concentrating.

  • Feeling increasingly resentful.

  • Drinking, smoking, or eating more.

  • Neglecting responsibilities.

  • Cutting back on leisure activities.

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout

  • You have much less energy than you once had.

  • It seems like you catch every cold or bout of flu that’s going around.

  • You’re constantly exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break.

  • You neglect your own needs, either because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore.

  • Your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction.

  • You have trouble relaxing, even when help is available.

  • You’re increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you’re caring for.

  • You feel helpless and hopeless.