It’s no secret that taking care of a loved one is a big commitment, and that’s exactly why it’s important to be aware of your mental health and realize when you might be dealing with caregiver burnout. Almost 85% of caregivers are caring for a spouse or relative so it can be tough to handle the load at all times. During work hours, caregivers assist by folding laundry, bathing, and dressing those who they are caring for, and also helping with medications and sometimes transportation. This constant care can take a toll on a caregiver both physically and mentally. The mental effects of caregiver burnout can be very serious, so it’s important to know what to look out for.
Mental Effects of Caregiver Burnout
Stress is not only a major mental issue when it comes to caregiver burnout, but it also can cause a variety of physical ailments as well. From headaches to stomach ulcers, stress can become very detrimental. Taking on the task alone as a caregiver can often produce a bigger burden than you may be able to handle. Studies have even shown that caregivers are more susceptible to drug abuse as well. It’s important that you allow yourself some “me time” to ensure that you’re getting the rest and relaxation that you need. You should try to reduce the stress so you can better take care of both your loved one and yourself as well.
Estimates show that between 40 to 70% of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression, with approximately one-quarter to one-half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Caregiving does not cause depression, nor will everyone who provides care experience the negative feelings that go with depression. But in an effort to provide the best possible care for a family member or friend, caregivers often sacrifice their own physical and emotional needs and the emotional and physical experiences involved with providing care can strain even the most capable person. This is exactly why you should continue to self-evaluate and ask yourself how you are really feeling. Depression is one of the most common mental effects of caregiver burnout, so it’s always important to acknowledge it.
While many assume that exhaustion is only the feeling of being physically drained, mental exhaustion can be just as common. Caregiver burnout really is the feeling of being mentally and physically exhausted. While we spend all of our time taking care of our loved ones, we often neglect to take care of ourselves, leading to various mental health risks. The mental exhaustion can eventually lead to other mental effects of caregiver burnout like depression anxiety. It’s important that you not only schedule time for your body to relax but your body as well. Whether it’s taking a mini-vacation, or simply setting aside some time each day to relax and read a book, it’s important that you work to combat mental exhaustion.
Some mental effects of caregiver burnout include a decreased interest in hobbies or activities. Many caregivers say that after caring for a loved one, they often find themselves with no desire to engage in any of their favorite pastimes. From art to reading, these hobbies will often fall by the wayside simply from mental exhaustion or depression. It’s important that you find activities that will take your mind of caregiving for a little. Everyone needs an outlet or way to express themselves that will combat caregiver burnout. Talking with others and releasing what has been weighing you down has been shown to lessen stress and bring you back into a normal routine as well.
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