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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.

Find home care near you or your loved one:

"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.

Last revised: April 11, 2010

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. November 29, 2019 at 11:52 am | Posted by Magda

    Be taking care of my father for 32 years now and more and more he gets demanding and I feel he is ungrateful. Feels he is entitled to the world be he is 90 and blind. I’m drained emotionally and physically. Anymore I don’t want to even take care of him. It’s sad but true. I feel I live in Groundhog Day with him.


  2. October 30, 2019 at 12:32 pm | Posted by KS

    Try changing it to this: God doesn't give you more than He in you can handle. The trick is to leave it in His hands and not take it back onto your shoulders.


  3. October 16, 2019 at 11:23 am | Posted by Gina

    My Dad passed two years ago, my sister and I have been caring for my Mom who has Alzheimers and needs 24 hour care. So besides working full-time, caring for her and trying to spend time with my boyfriend of 12 years and our dogs who are six years old and taking care of my house and myself. My boyfriend just turned 40 last year, I am 60, he would always ask if we could go camping or something to spend time together and I would always tell him, once my Mom passed (she is 83) we can do all the things he wants to do, but right now my Mom was my priority. So when he had a heart attack on April 13th, 2019 and passed away you can believe me that the guilt I feel for putting him off is HUGE. I keep trying to tell myself we had a good life together, and there's nothing I can do about it now so I really need to forgive myself, how was I to know he would pass away at the age of 40? It's only been six months since he passed away and everyone expects me to be just fine because I've always been the strong one, the one that keeps everyone else going but now having to take care of the house and the dogs and my Mom and my job and the bills piling up and not having enough money because I don't have his help anymore is just more stress than one person can handle. I'm at my wits end, especially since I hate my job and just want to quit but I can't seem to teach the dogs anything so they can help support me. LOL I know I need to take little steps and it starts with forgiving myself but it's just so hard. I don't even think I've been able to grieve for my Dad the way I really should because even before he died we were told my Mom would need 24 hour care so we were thrown into that right away. Being the oldest of three daughters, one of which lives out of State I've always been the strong one, so after Dad died there really hasn't been much grieving and now with my Boyfriend gone I KNOW I haven't grieved for him the way I need to because I have even less time to take care of myself. I know it's taking a toll on my sister because she's with my Mom all day long until I get there. We have had hospice coming since February but the aide only comes 3 times a week for a couple hours and gives my sister a little break. They do give us a 5 day respite every couple months but I'm not even looking forward to them anymore. I know when my Mom dies I'm going to totally lose it because I'm going to end up doing 2 or 3 years worth of grieving for 3 people. I guess I just have to take it one day at a time and hope GOD keeps helping me through this. They say HE doesn't give you more than you can handle but I'm really doubting that at this point.


  4. October 13, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Posted by Sue Rumball

    My beloved father was diagnosed with one cancer after another and I was the primary caregiver. My parents lived with me and my mother had a personality disorder, along with dementia. Mom began to shove dad and he fell one night, so hard that he needed hospitalization. He went to a nursing home for rehab and died of a heart attack while he was there. A few days after burying dad, mom was diagnosed with leukemia and thus began the circle again of constant visits to the cancer clinic for blood testing and weekly transfusions. My mother and I never had a good relationship but she was even more combative given her blood and mental health issues. She ended up in palliative care where she passed 20 months after dad died. When the funeral was over and I came up for air, I was an emotional and physical wreck. I had gained 70 lbs (have never been out of shape) and cried frequently. I don't believe I had time to grieve my dad and this played heavily on my mind. There needs to be an intermediary who can tell us to 'stop' and take care of ourselves. The notion never occurred to me and now I pay the price. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks...all were exacerbated by the circumstances and I find it difficult to cope most days. Hospice counselling was helpful...grieving while the other parent is dying is impossible.


  5. September 14, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Posted by Daria Bonomini

    I am sympathetic to all that are caregivers and are on a revolving and continuous roller coaster ride. Sometimes I feel like I will never get off of it. I was a caregiver, am a caregiver and will be one until the day I die. Since 2001, I and my family have gone through so many illnesses and so many deaths with no break in between. We went from MS to Alzheimers to Kidney Failure/Dialysis to a Stroke and all types of cancers. Care had to be given to all family members until they died which sometimes took 10 years. Now, since 1995, when my husband retired from the Fire Dept., it has been non-stop back surgeries, blood clots, hernias, pancreatic cancer, throat cancer and treatments. Driving to doctors, hospitals, tests and more tests, this has worn me out and the tears never stop. I am so tired and I ask God for strength each and every day. All I can hear in my home is coughing, choking, spitting up every single day. The only time I find peace is when he is sleeping. The worst part of this is watching and listening to a person go from a vibrant human being to a body worn out from so many serious ailments and you are just so helpless, can not do a thing just watch them deteriorate to skin and bones with heavy breathing. You ask yourself, "how much more can I endure?" He needs 24/7 care but will not go. We can not afford to pay someone to assist. We have expended so much money into our home which was in need of major work. When you take a good look at a caregiver's life and look into their hearts, you will find hopelessness!


    • September 22, 2019 at 5:34 pm | Posted by Nancy Baker

      Hi, I feel deeply all you are going through. I am on a break to eat after spending 21 hours as a sole caregiver. I sent, propbably a rude text to my brother who lives 15 minutes away, tellling him I needed a short break


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