April 6, 2010
"If I could just get some good sleep, maybe I wouldn't feel so tired all the time and this headache would go away."
When you're a caregiver it's easy to forget about your own needs. After all, you're a caregiver not a me-giver. Right? Well, yes and no. As difficult as it might seem, you need to pay attention to yourself too. Why? One study done by Elissa Epel from the University of California found that family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a caregiver's life.
So how do you know if caregiver stress is affecting you? Look for these common physical signs of caregiver stress:
- Disturbed Sleep
- Back, shoulder or neck pain, muscle tension
- Stomach/digestive problems (upset or acid stomach, cramps, heartburn, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea)
- Weight fluctuation (gain or loss)
- Loss of hair
- High blood pressure, irregular heart beat, palpitations
- Chest pain
- Skin disorders (hives, eczema, psoriasis, tics, itching)
- Periodontal disease, jaw pain
- Reproductive problems/infertility
- Weakened immune system suppression: more colds, flu, infections
- Sexual dysfunction/lack of libido
If you are experiencing some of the signs listed above, consider talking with a healthcare professional that can help you to evaluate your situation. You are not alone. Getting support will help reduce caregiver stress, as well as reduce the associated risks of ongoing stress.
Read on about Emotional Signs of Caregiver Stress.
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