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Physical Signs of Caregiver Stress

Physical signs of caregiver stress
When you're a caregiver it's easy to forget about your own needs.

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"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
  • Headaches
  • Stomach/digestive problems (upset or acid stomach, cramps, heartburn, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Weight fluctuation (gain or loss)
  • Loss of hair
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure, irregular heart beat, palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Perspiration
  • 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.

Last revised: April 6, 2010

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. November 16, 2020 at 6:16 pm | Posted by Nic

    I am new to working professionally as a Caregiver. My whole life I have been taking care of my family sense I was 8 years old. 8 years now and it never seems to get easier. I have watched my family go through health issues and we all just find a way to live with it. Recently my mom has gotten permanent damage from ticks while she was in SD. I have helped her from day one with the symptoms getting worse. Doctors have said they can't find anything wrong that they can do anything about though there is definitely something there. We are just living our lives with it. She hides a lot of her pain but I am the one she goes to for help. My Dad takes helps when I am working and when I come home he is already gone for work. My sister has told me she doesn't know how to take care of her. That has always been my realm. There are days it pains me so much to tears. I worry she will go back downhill worse than before. Some days are easier to except that there is nothing to do about but others I can barely get through without crying. I think this should be easier and ask why it isn't. I am told my back and shoulders are really tense but I don't even realize the pain anymore. I reach out for hope.


  2. September 30, 2019 at 11:21 pm | Posted by randall dunkley

    You resist the thought. The Chemo did not work is relayed to you. She is to go home to die,they have given up,they have washed their hands. The toll on the partner is subtle and creeps. Patience is a virtue that is supreme,but we lose it from time to time...where has my life gone? How long is this death rattle much guilt at being human, to care but to what end? The daily struggle to find the time to do what must be done,never enough time. 46 years has not prepared a partner for this,hoping I make a difference but knowing I will lose my heart.


  3. May 6, 2019 at 3:40 pm | Posted by Pamela

    I have Hospice or I would never make it through this


  4. October 18, 2015 at 6:31 pm | Posted by Nita

    I feel the same way. At least you two have some support in each other. It is just me. It was fine. Then for the past week she has been looking for people who are not around. Have no clue how this got started. Would like to give her something to calm her down and would not feel guilty. I have my own pains and demons to deal with. I don't know how to commit her to a nursing home. I do know the job is getting too big for me. She is starting to leave the house something she has not done before. I am going to set the alarm an see if that slows her down. I am getting to the point of annoyance where I am getting short tempered and angry. I cannot keep running to the door to see which way she goes and directing her back into the house. My back hurts and my feet are swollen and painful, I can't wear shoes. She moves faster than I can.


  5. October 15, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Posted by Joan Bunge

    the Caregivers Lament by Ron Seals Touched my heart..... Oh my goodness, he was inside my heart and head. Thank you so much for that. My mom and dad moved in with Rick and I ( 1 year after we married in 1995). Dad had Alzheimer's. Mom did most of the caregiving while she could. Dad died 3 years. It's so sad to watch your big strong and smart daddy in this state. Moms still with us, has dementia now for about 4 years. It's like taking care of a bad 2 year old. My wonderful husband does a lot of the duties, God bless him. We are both tired. We never go anywhere except to grocery store, Walmart once a month. It's very exhausting on both of us. I have health problems too. I try my best to be patient. Pray a lot. Thank you for letting me share here. Hugs to all. Joan


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