Psychological stress from caregiving is common, causing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, alcohol, substance abuse, or eating disorders.
Psychological stress occurs due to the emotional, mental, and physical demands of caregiving. Studies show that caregivers report much higher levels of stress compared to people who are not caregivers.
Many caregivers provide caregiving around the clock, neglecting their own needs and lacking time to relax and socialize. This contributes to feelings of exhaustion, isolation, anxiety, and depression.
According to some estimates, around 43 million caregivers in the US provide unpaid assistance to an adult family member. One-third of them are also raising children, while 40 percent of caregivers work full time. Also, 30 percent of caregivers don’t have family members to step in and help them out. Most than half of them report feeling overwhelmed by the amount of care caregiving requires.
Although most people consider caregiving a significant life stressor, a 2014 study showed that the link between caregiving and different forms of psychological distress depends on a person’s genetic factor and upbringing more than on the difficulties of caregiving.
For instance, if a caregiver has a history of anxiety or depression, they are more likely to experience psychological stress due to caregiving.
Long-term caregiver stress (and any other type of stress) can cause serious mental health problems. The most common psychological health problems triggered by caregiving are anxiety and depression.
Research shows that women who are caregivers to a family member are more likely than men to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. These mental health concerns are also linked with a weakened immune system, various physical symptoms, problems with sleep and appetite, trouble focusing and paying attention, relationship issues, and other concerns.
High levels of stress increase the risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.