More often than not, caring for an individual is too much for one person to do alone. A team of people will be required to provide the best care possible. Here is a list of signs that you aren’t coping and need assistance. If you feel like you are experiencing one or more of these, it is important to ask for a professional opinion from a physician or counselor.
When you begin experiencing mood swings/symptoms of depression
One of the first symptoms of caregiver burnout is mood swings. When you become exhausted and overwhelmed it can be near impossible to control your emotions. You may experience sudden outbursts, symptoms of depression, anger and frustration, or extreme exhaustion. It’s important to realize your behaviour has changed. Often others will tell you first before you notice the signs yourself. Understand that this is a first symptom that you are not coping and you need help.
When other relationships are affected
As mood swings become more apparent, you may be negatively affecting the relationships you have with those around you. My advice is to not take all these burdens on by yourself. Your friends and family are worried about you, and they care, so lean on them when it becomes too much. Maintain open communication about how you’re feeling and what your worries are because you don’t want to hurt others unnecessarily.
When your work performance begins to decline
When your home life becomes too stressful it often affects your productivity at work. It can’t be helped. No matter how much you try to separate work and personal life it’s just not that easy. If it comes to a point where your boss is pulling you into their office to discuss this with you, you are not coping.
When you experience significant weight changes
As your stress levels build, certain habits may change with eating habits being the first. Weight changes take time to occur, so if your weight has changed significantly this may be a late sign that you have not been coping effectively. Nutrition and hydration are the main sources of fuel to keep you going each day. Not eating enough, or eating too much, can have negative consequences on your health. Once your health is affected, your ability to be a caregiver, as well as your own quality of life, will be affected.
When your own health becomes affected
As an extension of weight gain, there are many more symptoms you may experience due to increased stress levels. Increased blood pressure/heart rate, gastrointestinal symptoms, heartburn, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, headaches, muscle tension, acne or other skin irritations, just to name a few. Again, these types of symptoms can be a late sign that you have not been coping.
Being a caregiver for anyone is full of unexpected challenges. There is no reason for you to carry all the burdens by yourself when there are so many support system surrounding you. Reaching out to a friend or family member is a great first step in acknowledging your struggles and doing something about them.