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Caring for the Caregiver

Being the caregiver of a loved one is more daunting and challenging than most people realize. Caregivers are at a significantly higher risk for developing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. With this in mind, caregivers should be mindful of their stressors and seek professional assistance to be screened for these conditions. Most caregivers do not recognize themselves as having mental health issues which could eventually increase their symptoms.

Be aware of these signs of caregiver stress:

1) Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried.

2) Feeling more fatigued than usual.

3) Feeling sad and disconnecting from others.

4) Sleeping too much or not getting enough sleep.

5) Increased or decreased appetite.

6) Feeling guilty for taking time to care for oneself.

7) Easily agitated or angry.

Feeling the stress of being a caregiver can affect even the most resilient people. Too much stress over a long period of time may be harmful to your mental and physical health. Take time to pay attention to your body and take care of your own health and well-being. Monitoring your sleep and having a balanced diet with help to maintain your health and reduce medical problems. The emotional demands involved with being a caregiver may become overwhelming if they are not attended to at the earliest signs.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help from others. be prepared with a list of ways that others may help you and let others know what would be helpful to you. Suffering in silence can lead to feeling isolated, causing you to feel more frustrated and depressed. You may also focus on what you are able to provide and what is beyond your control. It is normal to feel guilty when you are not able to provide everything that your loved one needs, but understanding your limits and realizing that you are doing your best would help to reduce the guilt. That being said, be sure to set realistic goals and prioritize our tasks. By all means, do not be afraid to say no to requests from others that may be demanding or draining. Connect with others whenever possible and seek resources that would make your load easier to bear. Seek social support groups and consult with a therapist to assist in managing your symptoms.

Remember to set personal health goals first. You cannot give what you do not have. Once you become emotional exhausted, you will feel overwhelmed when trying to help others. Recharge yourself with adequate sleep, health eating habits, and participating in things that bring you pleasure. Again, seek help. You are not alone.

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