Caring for an older parent or a child with special medical needs can be a very rewarding experience that shows high levels of love and commitment. However, it’s important to recognize that caregivers often experience high levels of stress. This overwhelming feeling can stem from exhaustion, anxiety, and limited access to resources.
Caregiver burnout occurs when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or attempt to do more than they are capable of. This can result in mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that can cause negative thoughts and behaviors. For many caregivers, this exhaustion can result in depression, fatigue, stress, anxiety and even guilt.
How do you know if you or a loved one is experiencing caregiver burnout? The symptoms are similar to those of stress and depression and may include:
Research studies have found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective intervention tool for reducing the emotional burdens and burnout that can come with the role of a caregiver. This form of psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can significantly improve the symptoms of depression that caregivers might experience.
CBT involves training caregivers to alter negative thought patterns and behaviors while learning to cope with stressful situations. By changing the way that caregivers respond to a difficult situation, such as seeking out help or approaching depressive thoughts from a new perspective, caregivers can train themselves to view things in a more positive way.
Some effective strategies include:
As one of Canada’s top 10 best psychotherapists, Melissa Cutler has spent the past 20 years gaining clinical and research experience across hospital, community, and public sector settings, including as a social worker. With advanced training in cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma counselling and chronic pain management, she helps caregivers manage their stress levels and enables them to provide better care for loved ones.
Book online for a psychotherapy appointment at her office on Yonge and Lawrence near the subway.