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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Self Care For Caregivers - Part 2: Caregivers' Common Emotional Reactions

In my prior blog article, I introduced the topic of  Self Care For Caregivers - Part 1 and indicated that I will be discussing different aspects of how caregivers are affected by their responsibilities as well as what they can do with regard to self care so they don't neglect their own health and well-being.

In this blog article, I'll be focusing on caregivers' common emotional reactions in an effort to help caregivers recognize that not only are these emotions common, but they are completely normal and to be expected.

Caregivers' Common Emotional Reactions

As a caregiver, you might not experience every single one of these emotional reactions, but you probably will experience many of them.  I believe it's helpful for caregivers to know that there are many other people who are in the same role who are experiencing similar reactions.  Knowing that millions of other people either have gone through or are going through a similar experience can provide some relief.

Caregivers' Common Emotional Reactions

Sadness
When you're taking care of a loved, it's normal to feel sad for your loved one as well as for yourself and other close friends and relatives who are affected by your loved one's illness.  If you feel sad for more than two weeks, you might be depressed and in need of professional mental health care to keep the depression from possibly developing into a debilitating problem.

Loneliness
Taking care of a loved one can make you feel isolated and lonely.  When you're a primary caregiver, it's hard to believe that anyone else could understand what you're going through, even if they tell you that they've had similar experiences.

Anger
Anger is a common reaction when you're a caregiver.  You might feel angry with the disease or disorder that's making your loved one sick, angry at medical or psychological professionals involved in your loved one's care, and angry with friends and family.  You might feel angry with "fate" or "God" for "allowing" this situation to occur.

At times, you might feel angry with your loved one for being sick,  You might even feel angry with yourself at times.  You might feel, even with all objective evidence to the contrary, that you're not doing enough and you should be making a super human effort to "fix" the situation, even if this is impossible.

Caregiver's Common Reactions: Sadness, loneliness, anger, fear, guilt, grief
Fear
Fear is a common reaction to overwhelming events.  You might be worried about being able to handle your responsibilities for your loved one as well as for yourself and other family members.  You might be afraid of what will happen next and if you're emotionally and physically prepared for it.  There can be so many other fears involved with taking care of a loved one.

Guilt
Along with feeling angry with yourself, you might also feel guilty for a variety of reasons.  You might feel angry and guilty, as mentioned above, that you're not doing enough for your loved one.  You might also feel guilty for wanting a reprieve from your caregiving responsibilities.  Of course, this is a normal response when you're a caregiver.

Grief
Whether you're grieving for the decline of your loved one's health or for how your life "used to be" before your loved one had a health crisis, grief is a common response for caregivers.

I've included a link below to a moving story in the Modern Love section of the NY Times that addresses many of these issues from the caregivers' perspective.

Getting Help
If you're a caregiver who feels overwhelmed, you're having a common reaction to a difficult situation, and you owe it to yourself, as well as your family, to get help from a licensed mental health professional who has experience helping caregivers through a difficult time.  Getting help might not change the external circumstances of your life, but it can be very beneficial to your emotional health and well-being.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples, and I have helped many caregivers to get through the emotional challenges involved with taking care of loved ones.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212() 726-1006 or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com

Self Care For Caregivers - Part 1

Self Care For Caregivers - Part 3: Tips For Self Care
Out of the Darkness - by Mark Lukach - Modern Love - NY Times



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