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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. March 27, 2015 at 4:26 am | Posted by Peeter Suns

    How to take Care of Emotions : Try and have a balancing force in life. Your balancing force can be hobbies like music, painting, swimming,


  2. December 6, 2014 at 1:14 am | Posted by joy

    I am filled with so much rage right now as i am caring for my mom and she won't do anything. She won't even tell my other siblings how bad she is .............. i can't tell them either because they have all turned their backs on me. I feel so alone and full of so much rage and hate. i found this site and hoping to find the magic seed of information. I tell mom someone else needs to help but nothing. One of my brothers starting showing up and after a week he realized how bad she was and now he is demanding that i go over at night after i work all day to look after her. I have been over to moms place two to three times a week and now he has the audacity to demand more after being around for a week? I have had fits of rage and screaming and crying at my own home in sheer frustration. I can't keep doing this without getting some assistance. Mom won't do anything she just sits there. I can't yell and scream at her that doesn't accomplish anything.


  3. April 25, 2014 at 12:49 am | Posted by KG

    I am a caregiver to my mom who lives with me and I wouldn't have it any other way. It was a promise that I made to my father before he died. I cared for him as well as my mom due to the fact that they could no longer drive and in poor health. When Katrina hit New Orleans my childhood home that my mom lived in was totally destroyed and my mom moved in with me. It has been my greatest joy to have her but it is stressful. My biggest frustration is that no one seems to understand that I need a break.. I have siblings but they don't really help out as much as they could. I have always been the one that has been closest to our parents. My husband is not very supportive either. All I want is for someone to appreciate all that I do and understand that I could use some time away to myself. God bless all those who need care and all those who care for others. Thanks for listening.


    • July 11, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Posted by Janet

      YES YES YES, people could help and at least give you moral support and say what a good job your doing i know . i have no support and help especially family. they just stay away and ignore us. No one knows unless they've been thru being a caregiver.


    • December 5, 2014 at 6:45 am | Posted by Wendy

      Dear KG: Every night I want you to read the next message (and realize you matter and make the difference). "Thanks for everything you did today, you are AWESOME"


  4. September 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Posted by janet

    I am the mother of a handicapped 42 yr old daughter and have taken care of her from day one. I am 60 yrs young lol. I have to basicly do everything for her, she does not talk but can understand everything that is being said around her!! She can feed herself and go potty pretty much but she still needs my help, as far as everything else she depends on mom. Until you have to do it you really do not realize how much it takes to take complete care of someone for just everyday things. I would not have it any other way I love my daughter, she is my angel. I am alone, have no husband and my family does not talk to me for what their reason is which changes from month to month so it is me and Liana. I am unable to even go the bathroom or take a shower without my daughter there and she even sleeps with me. The sleeping with me started when my husband left me for a friend and so we move to a different town in the mountains which we love. It is times not to feel guilty if I think I just need a few moments to myself to step outside and have smoke, and making her stay in the house which there is nothing in the house that she can get hurt on I learn that trick quite a few years ago. People saw think of your self and not get stressed or depressed but those are words and it is not that easy, I know. Not looking for any kind of pity or anything like that just wanted to say that when you do not have the avenues of getting a few moments to yourself that life goes on for this caregiver. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who like myself will continue to do what we need to do no matter what may come our way and will not ask for help nor complain about it. I do understand but it was never a thought in my head from day one where my daughter would except with me. Thank you


  5. May 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm | Posted by jeannie snider

    I am caring for my roomate who had a stroke and memory loss and bleeding in his head . Due to stroke he is very difficult to live with and care for he causing problems between me and my boyfreind . I have to drive him to all the doctors , manage finances help him manage meds and he get mad when we try to get to him to move in to an apt and have nurses try to help him with meds and other stuff


  6. December 7, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Posted by larry

    I am caring for my wife who has pain problems and diffuculty falling. Due to her pain and the medications she is very difficult to live with and care for. She does not consider me as her caregiver. I have to drive her most often, provide meals, manage finances, help her manage meds. She is beginning to fall regularly and I am concerned she will soon require full help bathing, hygene, etc. How should i plan for this? We are financially in good shape and have medical insurance. She is legally disabled for 10 yrs due to back surgeries and stroke.


    • January 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Posted by Ken

      Hi Larry, Perhaps just some time alone with friends would be enough. Talk to your doctor about your feelings, maybe set up a respite for yourself. I am pretty much in the same boat, except I have gone through my life savings and can't afford to go anywhere. A separate vacation, and maybe you could arrange for your spouse to go somewhere nice as well. Like I said talk to your doctor, he may suggest a specialist. Good luck, Ken


  7. March 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Posted by MEG

    The irony of my present situation is that I'm a social worker and empower clients. Eight years ago my mother passed away. Fortunately my father though emotionally needy was able to physically, medically, and financially support himself. I've been married 6 months and in the last month had my father move in with us b/c of surgery to remove bladder stones and has catheter that I need to clean and take care of. Though he admits I'm taking care of him physically he claims I'm emotionally neglectful because he wants me to hear the same stories that I've been hearing 35 years. He has also become dependent on one of us to always take care of whatever is needed including speaking to the drs. He uses language barrier as an excuse though his medical care all speak Spanish. Instead of telling the dr what's wrong physically he is talking about issues of the past. He uses all the medications' side effects (though been on them for years) as reason why he can't move from dining room to 2nd floor guest bedroom. He claims he doesn't want to impose but then demands attention when I or my husband gets home from work. My husband and I teamed up and worked a plan for my father to cook for himself and not wait for one of us to cook and definitely not to "go on hunger strike" b/c we've gone out to dinner with friends. When I try to talk to him about his medical care and things he will be responsible for, it is like talking to a child with attention deficit disorder. To make things more complicated we live in south NJ and my father lives in NYC. If there is a medical emergency my husband or I have to find away to get to NYC b/c my father's Medicare coverage is in NY. My father in turn is thrilled b/c he gets attention and one of us is left to figure out how to get to NYC, pay for fare, doctors visits and prescriptions. His only other concern is about missing phone calls on the cell phone I pay for. While the physical care is taxing, it's the emotional and mental component that have possibly taken greater toll. The next few months of 1st year of marriage will be taking care of my father.


    • January 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Posted by Sarah

      Hi Meg, I understand what you're dealing with and hope the situation has improved since you posted. I watched my mom take care of my grandmother for almost a decade and the emotional neglect card was something grandma used daily to tear my mother down. It is a challenge to stay strong and logical amid such stressful conditions. Additionally, I am a master's candidate at Columbia's Journalism School and I writing an article about caregiver stress in NJ and NYC, and am wondering if you--or anyone else reading this who lives in the area--would be willing to speak with me more about your situation. I realize this is a long shot, but please let me know if you are interested. All the best to you, Meg. Sarah


      • May 18, 2012 at 9:05 am | Posted by Shelia Chenevert

        Sarah, It's 7am in Baton Rouge, La - the sun has only crept behind a few trees, my mom is asleep in the recliner after roaming during the sleepless night - I am sitting outside on the front porch with a cup of super strong coffee looking for a tiny few moments alone with God and searching the internet for HELP! After several much needed devotionals, God brought me to you. First let me say how very much I respect what you are doing. I am a writer and photographer and would LOVE to help you with your project! I am a very YOUNG 55 year old and 1st time caregiver. My step dad of 33 years just passed away a month ago and then his son, my step-brother passed away yesterday! I have one brother and one 25-yr old daughter. I am the elected caregiver because "everyone else HAS to work"! Gimma a break - I HAD a job too! Anyway, my mom was diagonosed with the onset of Demensia a year ago, has type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, and array of other things the doctors say she HAS to be on medication for! I was in the process of moving into a new home, putting my previous home on the market, and starting a new job when all of this happened! Wanna hear more? Let me know if you are interested and I can provide you with tons and tons and tons of info - and it's only been ONE month! Oh, just to let you know - it's not ALL "doom & gloom" - there are many, many comical sides of this... and God is ALL in it!!!! Look forward to hearing from you! Blessings, shelia <


  8. February 23, 2011 at 12:35 am | Posted by Jackson

    Hang in there,and take care of yourself ,too.


  9. February 23, 2011 at 12:28 am | Posted by Jackson

    I am a caregiver for my mother about 3 years since my father passed. Mom has both hips replaced 3 years ago and having hard time walking. I take her out everyday to work with me since I own my own business for 32 years. My three other brothers do not want to have anythings to do with her. It is sad for me because Mom starting to not remembering things. She is 88 years old. My wife is getting tired of me taking care of her, she is not helping at all unless I ask. After three years as a caregiver, I am a bit stressed and need time alone sometimes. My daughters they both help some when they are off work,they both have childrens as well to take care . I have know all along Mom will stay with me when she cannot care for herself anymore.I will stay strong and will need help in time.


  10. December 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Posted by Margaret

    I was wondering if there is a CNA support group, I work with quite a few seniors with Alzheimer and dementia and I need a support group any suggestions would be greatly appreciated . thank you and happy holidays


  11. December 14, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Posted by Evelyn Fontenot

    I' not caring for anyone, but I,myself, have a "sitter" who comes each day from 8 *AM and leaves at 6PM. What I pay her each week (From my Deceased husband's Soc sec, I was a teacher and we do not pay into SOcial security nor do we get any pay but our own retirement. My "sitter"is necessary because I am slightly disabled due to a fall when, after exercising one day I fel (fainted due to running completely out of oxygen and now have to live with a supply of the same< For some reason I cannot regain any strength in my back, Home health helps me with exercise and that doesn't seem to help give me strength. I can do some things around my house, but not everything needed, I can still sew some things and have just completed a precious baby quilt for an expected great grandchild. for a lot of years after my retirement I played a lot of golf with my friends as well as my husband, but now I can hardly swing a club and feel cheated. I DO HAVE 3 WONDERFUL DAUGHTERS AND A SON all of whom are married and do not live in my town, but who do take turns, spending weekends with me and who take me to Mass on Sat. or Sunday. I have decided to quit driving my car, though it hurts my sense of independence since I had been my own Boss for at least 3 years since my husband died. All I ask anyone who cares is "pray for me, please" I do pray for others who are unable to do for themselves., as well as those who are sick and give prayer blankets that have been Blessed at a healing Mass. Its one of my missions as a member of Our CDA court.


    • May 18, 2012 at 9:07 am | Posted by Shelia Chenevert

      I am praying for you - you are dear and the Lord loves you. His eye is on the sparrow and He will care for you! Blessings, shelia <


  12. December 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Posted by bob carbone sr

    I don't know where I'd be if it were not for my Home instead care giver I am a disabled WW2 veteran I am part of the Vet/Adm home care program my local Home instead care co is under contract to The V/A i guess it's been 3 yrs or so now they do such a fantastic job for my well being this care giver I have now Ms Lyndie Leone take care of me as if she were my own daughter I could not ask for ant one better also the Company alone seems to take a very deep intrest in my well being They are always in contact with me as to how things can be made easier Esppecially the supervisor Sophia with out fail she visits and looks over the log activity sheet and personnally talks to me as if I was her dad or family member to see if things are O.K or how can they do a better job all of the Home instead senior care in Hemet california has my undying gratitude for making my last 3 yrs so comfortable as my nearest family memberf are at least 3 hr drive from me home Thanks again home instead senior care Mr R.L.Carbone Sr San Jacinto Calif


  13. December 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Posted by Susan

    This is a wonderful and so thoughtful endeavor, as my mom is a senior and lives in a building where a few seniors help each other. Some sew items for each other while others share prepared foods, those that can make it out bring back soups for one another. But I must say that children of living seniors need to really roll out the red carpet for their parents. I myself have cut back in gift giving to provide for my mom. There are no excuses for providing for ones parents. I am unemployed and if I run short in funds, I prepare food, do errands and sometimes just the company is what the senior needs. Other siblings must chip in to assist in supplying all needed items.


  14. September 20, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Posted by RUTH HOEPFNER



  15. August 22, 2010 at 6:42 am | Posted by Ana M.Rodriiguez

    My 97 year old uncle is a very strong man. Because he raised me since I was 3 months old he feels that I have to take care of him. This bothers me because I don't like to feel obligated to do anything. I've been caregiving since 10/2002. Antolin Cruz is a hispanic, 97 year old man who has been railroaded several times since my aun't Cecilia Cruz passed away 1/17/1993 which I feel has stressed me out as time has passed by. I feel that throughout time since 2002 to present because I have cared for him it has also contributed to my finalized divorce and less communication with my children. I can;t find anyone that will hug me, pray for me and just tell me everything is going to be alright. I do not take any knd of medication and am very fearful of anything that causes addiction. Presently I smoke and can't wait to stop. My husband used to help me wiith my uncle until about 2008 Daniel slowly squeezed the love out of me for him until I finally decided to start divorce procedings and now I am finally divorced. He walked out on 4/1/2010 and took my then 16 year old daughter to live 1/2 a mile from me, but is of no support physically,emotionally,mentally and financially. I have gone thru several stresses that if it were not for prayer among the christian people that know me I doubt I would have been able to come this far as a whole. I have worked outside the home in several secretarial setting and have been able to work and keep my private battles separated. I now see it as a God send that my last job was downsizing and my position as a customer service rep was eliminated. I've sustained my boring existence between unemployment benefits and my uncle's needs with his $800.00 (eight hundred limited Social Security Check). Socio dynamics: My uncle does not know how to read nor write, but has been caught up with some problems that are illegal and in two three incidents have had to fight for is rights with no financial gain. So it is not something that I have sought out for money even though I sure can use some money now to save my home which is not in repo. When my 77 year old aun't who I love dearly past away she left us with no money, but with alot of love for others so I've had to deal with grieving all by myself while raising two daughters, working and trying to keep my marriage. Finally, there are some injustices that cannot be fought with an Attorney when you have no money, so I am more stressed out emotionally than anything else. In Florida you have to seek help by yourself, but when you reach a help agency, there is so much political and racial discrimination that you get no help. I hope your website will help me as I sit here with a 97 year old uncle that calls my name for something thirty times a day when he is home with me and has this obsession with going to the bathroom and taking a dump everyday. It is raining right now so I want to log off and listen to the soothing rain.


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