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Emotional Signs of Caregiver Stress

Caregiving can take emotional toll
It's important to recognize the emotional signs of caregiver stress.

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April 11, 2010

"I'm so scared I'm not going to be able to get everything done. I can't believe no one will help me! It makes me so angry. I've never felt so alone and out of control before."

The emotional experiences involved with providing care can strain even the most capable person. The resulting feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, isolation, exhaustion—and then guilt for having these feelings—can exact a heavy toll.

It's important to recognize the emotional signs of caregiver stress. Take a look at the following list and see if any apply to you:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Moodiness/mood swings
  • Butterflies
  • Irritability, easily frustrated, road rage
  • Memory problems and lack of concentration
  • Feeling out of control
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Phobias
  • Argumentative
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Job dissatisfaction

Noticing the way stress affects you physically is sometimes easier than seeing how it is affecting you emotionally. You may want to think about how your spouse or children are reacting to you. If you're more grumpy than normal they may let you know or may just avoid you altogether.

Consider talking with a healthcare professional that can help you to evaluate your situation. Remember, it is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a family caregiver. In fact, it is important that you take initiative with your own physical and emotional care, or else it could make you less useful to the person for whom you are caring.

Get more tips on learning to avoid and cope with caregiver stress.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. August 1, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Posted by wayne zentack

    my wife is dying but also cotacted altimer and dementia only 56 years young she has glioblastimia brain cancer no cure they removed the tumer and treatments its hard to take care of some one whom has the altimers and dementia they fight with you and try to hit you they arenot in there right mind ive been doin this for year and a half now cant seem to get enough care takers to help my son and I to take care of her while I try to sleep lots of time that I'm up all nite no sleep this goes on for days bad disease it is no cure for it either I did the best I can so I had 2 hip replace ments while doin this back to back lucky she didn't kick me when I was healing probably have to put her in nursing home people don't want to work this day and age I got 1 caretaker to help me 1st shift when nite time comes all hell break loose so if I pay out of pocket expenses it would cost more for around the clock care at my house when I go back to work so its cheaper to put her in nursing home I'm not crazy about it but I have to companys cant get me no more help


    • August 11, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Posted by Home Instead

      Hi Wayne, thanks for sharing your experience with us. We're sorry to hear about the challenges you're facing but we wanted to share a resource that might be of benefit to you. The Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Relief Grant Program awards home care grants to those providing care to their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Funds for the grants are provided by Hilarity for Charity and home care services are provided by the Home Instead Senior Care franchise network. Here is more information if you would like to apply:


  2. May 24, 2017 at 6:45 am | Posted by brenda bhatti

    what good advise, i have been a caregiver for 15 years and very happy to do so but recently have felt a bit low as my workload caring for my husband has grown, i now know that i need help some support from outside the family as my health has started to give me some minor problems i am 66 .i am finding it all emotionally very draining. i love my husband to bits so i feel i need to do this for him too. i dont usually talk about my care roll as i have always strong and a nurse for many years but thank god i am learning to relax a bit and not worry about keeping everying up


  3. April 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Posted by Sally Devereux

    I have found that being very specific about requests for help from my adult children has been effective. They have busy lives raising kids and working and do not understand our needs. When asked to take Dad to lunch, they have been glad to do so. When asked for overnight care in a crisis, they have worked it out. I do not expect my children to be our caregivers, though that my happen in the future. I am fortunate to have cultivated good friends through life, some much younger than I. They have provided support and a social life when I have most needed it. I would recommend widening your support network - it takes an army to carry a spousal caregiver who is also getting old! We need more free, good quality respite services in our communities!


  4. April 8, 2016 at 1:00 am | Posted by A Black Dog About The House

    This is a wonderful article to remind carers of the mentally ill to look at their own health and wellbeing. I have shared this with love on our A Black Dog About The House Facebook community.


  5. April 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Posted by Carol Galloway

    I have been caregiver for my spouse since 2011. He has Parkisnons and has fallen and broken both hips. We've been through those surgeries as well as a five month lung infection. There have been at least 8 hospital stays as well as a couple of rehabilitation stays away from home. Four years ago we relocated because two of our sons said if we lived closer to them they could help me. Well, not only did they not lift a hand to help me unpack and get settled in our new home, any help that they have given us was only because I begged and pleaded. I simply do not understand adult sons who have to be asked to call their dad.


  6. September 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Posted by Paula RIdley

    I cared for my mother with the help of my husband for 10 years with only occasional help from my younger sister. My niece would fix meals for my mom from time to time. Without my husband I would not have been able to maintain. I am currently working on my PhD in Organizational Leadership and I want to do my qualitative research talking with people who were caregiver like myself and how it changed who I am today. I am 60 years old now but this topic is still in my heart and on my mind. My mom passed 2 years ago.


  7. May 10, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Posted by DW

    I too am filled with soo much anger and resentment. I am fully employed and full time caregiver when not at work. I have no life. I almost lost my job because of caring for my mother and now have to be more present at work. I can't afford to quit and my mother is very needy. She has multiple issues including stroke and pulmonary fibrosis in which she needs 02 24/7. She can't bath, walk on her own, etc.. She was never mother of the year, but I do love her very much and most times don't mind caring for her. But I'm becoming so burnt out that I can't see past my anger. I do have some help come in while I'm at work but it's not enough. I need to have some alone time for me. My brother tries to stop by when he can and also call. My crazy sister is a complete no show. No one understands the amount of stress. I can do all the physical stuff no problem. It's the mental stuff she does that drives me crazy. She won't take her pills, drink her water, etc unless you plead with her. I know that there is memory and cognitive issues but she also does play these "me, me me" games too. UGH. All I really want is not to be so angry at her.


    • April 7, 2016 at 11:01 am | Posted by Sheila

      Im right there with you. I have been getting extremely depressed to top it off. I wish there was a support group I could go to but who has the time. Im exhausted mentally and physically.


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