12 Signs of Caregiver Burnout

by Brittany McNabb

It is important for caregivers to take care of themselves especially when experiencing fatigue, stress, and something we call "caregiver burnout." It is hard to be a good caregiver if you are not in a good place yourself, thus the need to  focus on self-care.

Caregiver Stress Organizing Everything

If you feel you are experiencing caregiver burnout, here are 12 signs to recognize it and 10 ways that could help you cope. It is better to pay attention to the signs early so you do not end up with a feeling that you just want to give up. You take better care of your patient by taking care of yourself. 

Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver Burnout

1. You feel like your needs are not being taken care of.

"I'm exhausted, my needs are always on the back burner. We have no balance. I feel like I work to go home and take care of him when I get there." - anonymous

2. You obsess about every little thing involving their cancer and treatment. 

"We should not be obsessed with things, if you know what I mean. We can just forget about these problems for one day or two, do something that usually cheer us up and that will help." - lavieestbelle

3. You feel the weight of everything is on your shoulders. This could be a sign that you need to contact the doctor or a therapist and solicit help from others. Even if you feel you must take care of everything yourself, many others will be more than glad to jump in and help.

4. You feel isolated and like you have no one to talk to. Sometimes it can be very hard to communicate with your loved one because of the high emotions or because you do not want to add stress to what they are going through. If you begin to feel isolated this is could be a sign of burnout. 

5. You feel you are holding things together with one thread and that you could fall apart at any moment.

"Being a caregiver feels like 'I am trying to hold it together while I am waiting and waiting for my heart to break.' Isn't that a wonderful and very apt quote for those of us in this cancer support community? Credit to Allison Janney as Bonnie in Mom." - chrism60

6. You are physically exhausted. Your body will tell you if you are going into burnout mode. Pay attention to fatigue, eating habits, sleep patterns, and the things you should be doing take care of your own health.

7. Anxiety over waiting for scans and tests results makes you feel like you might explode. Some people may say that this will always be a feeling because "waiting is one of the hardest parts," but it may be a straw that breaks the camel's back so to speak when you are a caregiver. 

8. You find that all you talk about is their cancer. Whether it is to the patient themselves or to friends and family, if you find you are only talking about cancer then this might mean it is weighing too heavily on you.

9. You dwell on the idea of life without them. It can be helpful to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but if you are constantly having negative thoughts and are unable to be positive, this could be a sign of mental exhaustion and burnout.

10. You feel like you are drowning in medical bills, debt, or other logistical issues that comes with having a loved one in cancer treatment. Emotions can be overwhelming but it can be the technical issues that put you over the edge. 

11. You feel you are walking on eggshells with your loved one and not able to say what you are feeling.

"I am unable to talk to him about finances or anything I am stressed over without him freaking out as he is unable to cope with any stress life brings and this makes it harder on me." - anonymous

12. You start to feel anger and resentment towards your loved one with cancer. Anger can be an irrational emotion that takes over quickly. In an effort to stop it from getting a hold of you, realize it early and act on these ways to cope with caregiver burnout.

Are you wondering how you can cope with caregiver burnout? Check out our post on 10 Ways to Cope with Caregiver Burnout.

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