Caregiver burnout is more common than you think. The enormous responsibilities of caring for an aging loved one while balancing work and family life weighs heavily on caregivers. Nearly half (46%) of caregivers suffer from depression, one of the signs of caregiver burnout. Burnout should be taken seriously; it can impact your health for many years and in some cases may lead to chronic conditions like high blood pressure. Here are the five leading signs of caregiver burnout and what they mean for your future.
Sign 1: You have much less energy than you once had. If you are constantly exhausted, stress has built up in your system and is sapping your energy. This can develop into chronic fatigue if you do not learn how to manage your energy expenditure. Sleep is the best medicine and depriving yourself of sleep can put you and others in danger. Sleep deprivation will increase your anxiety and can contribute to depression. Your immune system will be rundown making you susceptible to catching colds and other illnesses. Learn to sleep well to recharge and refresh. Don’t let tasks and responsibilities eat away at your sleep schedule. Solid sleep will help to build your energy stores.
Sign 2: You are constantly sick and rundown. The body can only fight so many illnesses. If you are constantly sick and rundown then your immune system has been compromised through stress and fatigue. Once your body reaches this point it will constantly be on the verge of becoming very ill. A run down, sick, stressed body is more apt to develop high blood pressure, which takes years to treat. If you are constantly sick and rundown see your doctor. Explain your circumstances and the pressures you are under as a caregiver. Ask for help in getting your body strong and healthy again.
Sign 3: You are exhausted even though you sleep through the night. Caregiver burnout and stress will rob you of a good night’s sleep. Chronic exhaustion can lead to adverse health effects and even accidents. Harvard lists the long-term effects of the different types of poor sleep:
Occasional sleep deprivation: Usually associated with increased stress, such as increased blood pressure, impaired control of blood glucose, and increased inflammation.
Reduced and increased sleep: Both of these are linked to hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
Sign 4 and 5: You neglect your own needs because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore. You feel helpless and hopeless.
Together these symptoms indicate the onset of depression. When you don’t care anymore, feel helpless or hopeless depression is beginning to set in. Once you notice these symptoms seek help. Depression can worsen over time. Without early treatment, you run the risk of becoming apathetic, isolated and deeply depressed. Depression can impact your ability to work, care for loved ones or enjoy life. It is a condition to be taken seriously.
You became a caregiver to take care of a loved one. Protect yourself from feeling the effects of caregiver burnout and your health during the process. Take care of yourself so that caring for a loved one does not result in long-term illness for you.