Being the primary caregiver of a sick or aged loved one can be one of the most rewarding experiences that we can have. Despite all of the challenges that caregiving presents, we derive a great sense of pride from knowing that we are able to tend to our family members’ every need. However, as rewarding of an experience that caregiving can be, it can also bring with it a tremendous amount of stress for the person who is trying to be everything their dependent family member needs. Eventually, the stress of being a primary caregiver can take its toll on even the strongest of people. Here are some warning signs to help recognize if you are someone you know may be suffering from caregiver stress.

Irritability

Becoming easily upset over even the most minute of things in life can be a warning sign that frustrations are building up inside and need to be dealt with accordingly. If allowed to manifest, these frustrations can grow into feelings and emotions that will be more difficult to deal with in the future.

Exhaustion

Over-extending ourselves to the point of exhaustion can be hazardous to our health. Not only do our bodies begin to suffer when we do not receive adequate rest, but our mental and emotional faculties take a beating as a result of it as well.

Withdrawing

Withdrawing from friends and family is a sure sign that caregiver stress may be setting in. Sometimes caregivers get so stuck in the same routine of providing for their charges and meeting their daily needs that they forget about their own personal needs and, often times, everything around them.

Health Issues

In providing for their charges and making sure that all of their personal and medical needs are met, many times they begin neglecting themselves and their own health. Their appearance may become disheveled and their health may begin to decline due to being constantly put on hold while tending to the needs of those around them.

Depression

The culmination of all these feelings and moods related to caregiving having been suppressed for an extended period of time is often depression. Caregivers may become overwhelmed by thoughts of their loved one’s deteriorating health and feel helpless because they can’t do anything to ‘fix it’ – even though they are doing everything they can. The apparent futility of it all can be detrimental to them.

If you think you or someone you know is suffering from caregiver stress, discuss the situation and treatment options with a qualified health care provider as soon as possible.

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