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Caregiving Stress:
The Warning Signs

Caring for a loved one is such demanding work that stress can become a major factor in coping with the situation. The symptoms you may experience are similar to the symptoms of depression.

Here are some warning signs that stress is taking its toll:

--You feel angry or irritable and just want to deny the whole situation is even happening.

--You feel as if you don't have the time or energy to "waste" on pleasant activities, and you become more isolated.

--You find it hard to concentrate because you are constantly thinking about your loved one's needs and what you have to do.

--You feel more and more depressed.

--Even though you are exhausted, you have problems sleeping.

-You start to develop health problems of your own.

You may feel stress for any number of reasons:

--There are multiple demands on your time and energy, but you feel as if you should be doing more.

--Some tasks and responsibilities are in direct conflict with others, and you're worried that you can't do it all.

--It seems that everyone has high expectations of you.

--You don't have the knowledge you need of aging issues and of your loved one's illness, so sometimes you don't know what to do.

--You feel you can't meet the ever-increasing needs of your loved one.

--You have limited access to the support you need and limited money to cover the costs of care.

--You feel "stuck" or "trapped" in the role of caregiving and don't know if you can do it for much longer.

--You're embarrassed when you take your care-receiver to appointments or out for dinner.

--You, your care-receivers and immediate family member don't agree on everything.

--You feel "put upon" because of lack of support.

--You feel as if your life's been taken from you.

--There is a general lack of communication--with your loved one, his or her doctor, your immediate family members.

--Your family and friends express negative attitudes about your role as a caregiver.

--It is hard to watch a loved one's gradual but progressive decline.

--There are problems in other parts of your life (work, spouse, children, prior commitments).

--You miss your own life, your friends, your privacy.

See also: Tips for the Caregiver and Respite Care