Understanding Caregiver Burnout: Signs, Symptoms, and Coping Strategies

Understanding Caregiver Burnout

Caring for someone who can no longer do it independently involves making many tough calls and doing demanding physical tasks.

The result is physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, which is why caregivers need to maintain a healthy self-care routine to avoid burnout. Understanding caregiver burnout is the first step towards self-care.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed with chores, especially when caring for someone with a chronic illness. What matters is how you manage the stress. If not done correctly, it can wear you down and cause severe caregiver burnout that can affect your well-being.

We’ll be discussing everything you need to know about caregiver burnout and how you can implement self-care routines, including considering enrolling in a caregiver course online, to maintain overall wellness.

Understanding Caregiver Burnout: What is it?

Caregiver burnout is a form of exhaustion that takes place when a care provider is physically, mentally, and emotionally overwhelmed by their duties. It’s that type of fatigue that a good night’s sleep can’t fix. Burnout is a result of a long-term accumulation of stress that hasn’t been attended to.

What causes caregiver burnout?

While performing your caregiver duties, especially for a loved one, you’ll find yourself so attached that you don’t get enough time for yourself. When you don’t get enough sleep, exercise, healthy food, and some time off, the piling stress starts chipping away at your physical, mental, and emotional health. Before we look into the stages of caregiver burnout, let’s review some of the prevalent issues that cause burnout:

Emotional demands

When the care recipient is a loved one, it can tear you down to see them in such a helpless condition. This pushes you to invest your emotions into ensuring they’re cared for. But despite all that, deep down, you know there’s no way for you to make their current condition go away.

There are too many conflicting demands

Besides caring for the person, you realize that other people around you need your attention. This includes your kids, spouse, co-workers, employer, and yourself. With too much on your plate, it creates a conflict that eventually leads to stress.

Role ambiguity

Even though your role as a caregiver is to look after the care recipient, you may not be fully sure of these roles. In a home setting, the responsibilities could extend to others, such as home assistants.

These are but a few of the most common causes of caregiver burnout. Depending on whether you’re offering care in a home or institutionalized setting, you may experience a different level of burnout.

Signs and Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout

An AARP report indicates that more than 30% of caregivers term caregiving as a highly exhausting job. One out of five caregivers said that caregiving worsened their health. The effects are even worse for family caregivers looking after an aging parent or spouse.

Despite the caregiver fatigue symptoms being evident, sometimes it can be difficult for a caregiver to detect their own burnout. So, what are some of the indicators of burnout? The symptoms resemble those of a stressed or depressed person. They include:

  •       Irritability, depression, and anxiety.
  •       Fatigue and run down.
  •       Difficulty falling asleep.
  •       Physical and emotional withdrawal from people around you, including loved ones and friends.
  •       Once favorite activities become uninteresting.
  •       Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  •       Loss of appetite and changes in weight.
  •       Lack of concentration.
  •       Frustration, agitation, and anger.
  •       Frequent illness.
  •       Increased eating, drinking, or smoking.
  •       Self-neglect.

At times, you may also find yourself unable to relax even when there’s help around. Your entire life revolves around caregiving, and you can’t seem to trust others with chores that you mainly perform. By being able to identify these and many other symptoms, you’re on the right path to understanding caregiver burnout and finding a coping mechanism, perhaps even considering seeking support through resources like an autism test to better understand and address any related challenges.

Stages of Caregiver Burnout

Other than the symptoms, it’s crucial for you to understand the stages of caregiver burnout. This can help you formulate the right coping strategy before burnout becomes more detrimental.


Caregiver burnout kicks off as frustration and disappointment because a loved one is not getting better despite the input. It becomes difficult to accept that the care recipient’s condition might continue to decline, irrespective of the level and quality of care they receive.

Loneliness and isolation

As time goes by, caregivers suffering from burnout may become lonely. The negative comments from family members who don’t appreciate the time and effort may lead to isolation.


The isolation further pushes a caregiver to feel dejected and helpless. Concentration becomes a challenge, and the caregiver loses interest in their hobbies or other fun activities. As things continue to deteriorate, the quality of care provided also drops, while caregivers spend less time on themselves.

If you’re caring for a loved one, such as a spouse, burnout may also lead to mixed feelings of resentment. Spouse caregiver burnout can be heavy to bear and may lead to a caregiver hurting themselves or attempting suicide. It’s important to share how you feel with someone else as you look for better ways to cope.

How to Cope with Caregiver Burnout

Coping with caregiver burnout is all about upping your self-care game. However, there isn’t a single effective remedy for caregiver burnout. Depending on your case, you may have to combine several strategies to feel yourself again. Here are several methods to help you cope with caregiver burnout:

Acknowledge burnout

The first step in understanding caregiver burnout and resolving it is to acknowledge your exhaustion. Be open and honest about the burnout. After accepting it, it becomes easier to seek help and kick-start your journey to recovery.

Seek help from family, friends, and healthcare providers

The amount of exhaustion that comes with the responsibilities of caregiving is overwhelming. That’s why sharing your woes with family or friends is crucial. Also, consult a healthcare provider, such as a psychologist or therapist, and discuss your condition.

When discussing your condition, specify exactly what you feel (is it exhaustion or being overwhelmed). Talk about what you think is the cause, such as a lack of time for yourself.


Avoid the blame game

You may also feel that a specific person, either a family member or friend, is the main cause of your burnout. Do not embrace the blame game, whether towards the person or yourself. Let the past be the past; don’t bring up events that may have contributed to the way things are. Instead, focus on getting better.

Delegate roles

Don’t try to solve everything by yourself. Create a to-do list or mark activities on a calendar, and identify those that other people can help you accomplish. Ask a family member to chip in and assist, or if not possible, outsource house assistants. They can help you with duties such as housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, and more, so you can focus on the things that matter most.

Take self-care seriously

Caring for yourself is not an indulgence. It’s a necessity that fuels your desire to provide quality care to your loved one. Give self-care priority in the same way you prioritize caregiving duties. Create time to take a proper healthy meal, exercise, sleep, and go for a walk.

Educate yourself about caregiver burnout

When you better understand caregiver burnout, it can help you take precautions early enough before things worsen. One way of doing that is to take a simple course online. You also learn about strategies to mitigate burnout and look out for yourself to allow you to provide better care.


Caregiver burnout occurs when you’re exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally from caregiving responsibilities. It may manifest itself through symptoms such as anxiety, frustration, anger, tiredness, lack of sleep, forgetfulness, and withdrawal. Understanding caregiver burnout can help you cope and manage the exhaustion. If you exhibit these symptoms, reach out to family members, friends, and healthcare providers for help.


The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Don’t ignore professional medical advice or put off seeking it just because of something you read here. Although we aim to offer precise and current information, we do not guarantee its completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability for any purpose. Using the information in this document is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any losses or damages caused by our content.

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