Caregiver Burnout is a term frequently used to describe the overwhelming symptoms experienced by caregivers tending to the aid of returning veterans of war. Indirectly, people suffering from Caregiver Burnout can exhibit all the quintessential signs of a full-blown diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Recently featured on hit television shows including The Dr. Oz Show, Caregiver Burnout is closely linked to Secondary Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although not defined as a mental disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Secondary PTSD occurs when a person has an indirect exposure to risk or trauma, resulting in many of the underlying symptoms of primary PTSD. The concept is simple –caring for and living with a loved one suffering from PTSD causes you to “mirror” their behaviors and post traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
The Perpetual Role of Caregiver
Anyone caring for a veteran with PTSD will tell you – it is no easy role. As certain people or circumstances may trigger and even exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD, many caretakers find themselves constantly on the look out – trying desperately to ensure that everything is perfect and that nothing will upset or aggravate their loved one. Emotionally unavailable, many veterans with PTSD also leave their caretakers feeling unloved and ignored. Caretakers tend to handle household chores, childcare and financial management while assuming the roles of cook, secretary, accountant, chauffeur, yard person, laundry service provider and just about anything under the sun. A 24/7 job, Caregiver Burnout is often inevitable for those living with traumatized veterans of war.
Signs of Caregiver Burnout
Caregivers with a healthy body, mind and spirit benefit their loved ones tenfold. Your success as caregiver depends greatly on your emotional, psychological and physical health. Always be aware of the signs of Caregiver Burnout:
- Excessive use of medications, sleeping pills or alcohol.
- Feelings of hopelessness, depression or alienation.
- Changes in appetite including eating too much or too little.
- Thoughts about death.
- Lack of energy.
- Loss of physical or emotional control.
- Treating loved ones roughly or neglectfully.
- Lack of concentration.
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Help for Caregiver Burnout
The first priority for anyone suffering from Caregiver Burnout is their own health and wellness. Remember to take life one day at a time to reduce stress and to make small changes towards greater health goals. Avoid tobacco, become more physically active and choose healthy nutrition to further reduce the symptoms of Caregiver Burnout. Counseling is another option for caregivers, including Give An Hour – a non-profit organization offering free counseling to veterans plus their spouses, children, family and caregivers.
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