Stress can manifest in many different ways, but sometimes it can be difficult to identify stress in ourselves. What we say to others and what we tell ourselves can provide some insight.
Below you’ll find some common signs of caregiver stress. If you experience any of these signs of stress on a regular basis, make time to talk to your doctor.
Signs of Caregiver Stress
1. Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed. What denial can sound like: “I know Mom is going to get better.”
2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s, anger that no cure exists, or anger that people don’t understand what’s happening. What anger can sound like: “If he asks me that one more time I’ll scream!”
3. Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. What social withdrawal can sound like: “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.”
4. Anxiety about the future. What anxiety can sound like: “What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?”
5. Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope. What depression can sound like: “I don’t care anymore.”
6. Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks. What exhaustion can sound like: “I’m too tired for this.”
7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. What sleeplessness can sound like: “What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?”
8. Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. What irritability can sound like: “Leave me alone!”
9. Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. What lack of concentration can sound like: “I was so busy, I forgot we had an appointment.”
10. Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll. What health problems can sound like: “I can’t remember the last time I felt good.”
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
It’s important to be on the lookout for signs that you are approaching burnout, which occurs with prolonged stress. The warning signs of caregiver burnout include:
- Excessive stress and tension
- Debilitating depression
- Persistent anxiety, anger, or guilt
- Extreme irritability or anger with the dementia patient
- Decreased overall life satisfaction
- Relationship conflicts and social isolation
- Lower immunity and greater need for healthcare services
- Excessive use of medications, drugs, or alcohol
Looking for More Information?
To learn more about identifying and managing the stresses of caregiving, visit ARARF’s guides to Caregiver Stress: Detecting Stress, Burden, and Depression and Caregiver Stress: Coping Strategies.