Being caregivers, we are bound to experience a roller coaster kind of adventure. There are the mean and tough times, and there are also the happy and fulfilling kinds of times. How then are we supposed to stay on top of the ride without ever experiencing the downs?
The truth is: you do not. As a caregiver, you are bound to experience the package of being one, both the highs and the lows. Though you also need to get into a somber caregiver moment, there are those conditions that you need to avoid. One of those states of affairs is compassion fatigue.
What is compassion fatigue?
Have you ever been in that situation where you are in the presence of an angry man or woman? What did you feel? How did you react? Do you not feel overwhelmed by the emotions displayed by that certain person?
That is what it feels like to have compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue can also be called “vicarious traumatization”. Others call it “secondary traumatization.” Whatever it is called, it is a fact that compassion fatigue can be felt by people who give care to their fellow men or to animals.
According to Dr. Charles Figley, compassion fatigue is “an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.”
This condition is not the same as burn-out, but it can co-exist with the latter the same way a cat and dog in a single household can.
Why does compassion fatigue happen in the first place? It occurs when the giver of care is exposed to a case involving caring. In other circumstances, this condition occurs as a result of a collective level of trauma.
The clear difference between compassion fatigue and burnout is that the former happens almost instantaneously. The latter, on the other hand, comes out over time. Another fact is that a person with compassion fatigue can recover faster than those having burn out. It only needs to be spotted early before it can lead to other emotional distress, affecting one’s performance and health.
How then can we tell if a person has compassion fatigue?
It is difficult to figure out if a person has this condition, especially if you have not monitored your subject or patient well. You need to be able to distinguish some changes in him or her before you can conclude that the thing plaguing the individual is indeed compassion fatigue.
Below are the different signs and symptoms of this condition to help you determine the presence of this state:
- Sleep disturbance
Changing sleep patterns that can affect the individual’s “normal physical, mental, and emotional functioning”
- Increasing emotional intensity
Lack of ability to control one’s own emotions
- Decreasing cognitive ability
Examples of which are means of how one learns, solves problems, pays attention, and remembers
- Impairment of behavior and judgment
Often results to impulsive actions and decisions
Wanting to separate one’s self from other people
- Loss of morale
Lacking the motivation to do one’s job
Having low mood, aversion to activity and apathy, all of which can give a major effect on how a person behaves, thinks, feels, and views himself or herself
- Loss of self worth
Believing that something is intrinsically wrong with themselves
- Beliefs and psychological need
Psychological needs such as safety, trust, esteem, intimacy, and control
- Existential despair
Loss of hope and meaning in life
Being angry at perpetrators or events
Comfort Care Home Health Care in Stony Island Chicago Illinois relates to caregivers having compassion fatigue. After all, we are caregivers ourselves. So what can we do to manage this condition? Below are the following keys to cope with this state:
- Talk to someone
- Understand the pain within you
- Eat a balanced meal
- Get enough hours of sleep
- Take a break
- Develop hobbies and interests
- Look for the things and people important to you
Caregivers, we need to stand up and help each other. Tell us how you manage with compassion fatigue yourself.
Blogs, content and other media uploaded online are for informational purposes only. Contents on this website should not be considered medical advice. Readers are strongly encouraged to visit their physician for health-related issues.