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Caregiver Syndrome: another form of Burnout

Caregiver Syndrome: another form of Burnout

December 5, 2021

The Caregiver syndrome It arises in those people who play the role of primary caregiver of a person in a situation of dependency. It is characterized by a physical and mental exhaustion, with a picture similar to work stress or "Burnout".

What is the Caregiver Syndrome?

It is manifested by those caregivers in charge of people who require constant help for presenting some degree of impairment or deficiency of neurological or psychiatric order, such as, for example, some type of dementia.

In most cases, the decision to become a caregiver is usually imposed by the circumstances , without a deliberate process of decision making. Therefore, these people face, suddenly, a new situation for which they are not prepared and that consumes most of their time and energy, to the point of becoming the center of their lives.


Changes that occur in the caregiver's life

The life of the caregiver changes radically as a consequence of the required demand. Your new responsibility rit requires a profound transformation of its form and quality of life , since, in general, nobody is prepared to live 24 hours a day with a person (usually a loved one) that deteriorates day by day in a progressive manner. This situation will most likely generate profound affective and emotional reactions: sadness, tension, anger, guilt, frustration, bewilderment ... that so often suffer those who perform these functions of assistance type.

Some of the changes that occur in your life in the short and long term:


  • Family relationships (new roles, obligations, conflicts arise ...)
  • Labor (abandonment or absenteeism, increase in expenses, ...)
  • Free time (decrease in time dedicated to leisure, interpersonal relationships, ...)
  • Health (tiredness problems, sleep and appetite disturbance, ...)
  • Changes in mood (feelings of sadness, irritability, guilt, worry, anxiety, stress ...).

Causes of the Caregiver Syndrome

The stress of the caregiver arises mainly from the different ways of perceiving the patient's needs, the investment of time, resources, conflicts between their expectations and the rest of the family members, feelings of guilt ...

Many times, the conflict arises due to the inability to meet the needs of the sick , family and personal. It is very common for the caregiver to give up areas of their social and work life given the needs that the person in their care requires.


Some indications of caregiver syndrome disorder

It is important that the relatives and friends of the primary caregiver are alert to a series of symptoms that may be indications of the presence of the disorder:

  • Increased irritability and behaviors of "aggressiveness" against others
  • Stress against auxiliary caregivers (they do not treat the patient correctly)
  • Depressive or anxious symptomatology.
  • Impatience with the person in care.
  • Social isolation.
  • Physical problems : headaches, anguish, gastric problems, palpitations ...

Therapeutic recommendations

It is as important to take care as to take care of ourselves; This will allow us to continue providing help in the best possible conditions, without getting burned.

It is essential that:

  • Look for moments to relax . There is a relationship between inner tension and external or corporal tension. When you are nervous, your body becomes tense. It is usual to notice a knot in the stomach, or a tightness in the chest, or have a tense jaw or cervical, or your face flushes, etc.
  • Rest and sleep enough.
  • Organize your time better so that he continues doing some of the activities and hobbies that he has always liked (going to the movies, walking, going to the gym, knitting, ...).
  • Learn to ask for help and delegate functions . It is impossible that, without help, you can carry out the amount of tasks you did before taking care of your family member, and in the same way.
  • Do not feel guilty for laughing or having fun If you are happy, it will be easier for you to cope.
  • Take care of your physical appearance , this will improve your psychological well-being.
  • Avoid self-medicating .
  • Communicate and express your feelings to the other relatives.
  • Reach agreements . All members must collaborate in the care of dependent family members.
  • Be assertive . It is important to treat the dependent person and the rest of the family in a friendly and communicative manner. Thus, misunderstandings will be avoided and everyone will be more willing to help.
  • Work empathy.Putting ourselves in the other's shoes can help us understand their point of view and understand their behavior.
  • Manage emotions . You have to know how to control feelings such as anger or frustration.
  • Work on the cognitive stimulation of dependent people . For this, it is necessary to practice reading with them, to talk about everyday events so that they have a sense of reality and to remember old stories and reminiscences that stimulate their memory.
  • Say "no" to excessive demands of the dependent person.

Burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder: Dr. Geri Puleo at TEDxSetonHillUniversity (December 2021).


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