Compassion Fatigue: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

1537 Words6 Pages
Combating Compassion Fatigue This essay examines compassion fatigue, including its causes and symptoms. The essay also considers the needs of caregivers and explores coping strategies and resources available to caregivers. Warning Signs The warning signs of compassion fatigue are grouped into several major classifications. Cognitive symptoms, those relating to problems with thought processes, include lowered concentration, apathy, rigidity, disorientation, minimization, and preoccupation with trauma. They can also include decreased self-esteem and thoughts of self-harm and doing harm to others (Philpott, n.d.). Physical or somatic symptoms include shock, sweating, rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulties, and aches and pains. Additional somatic symptoms include dizziness, increased number and intensity of medical complaints and an impaired immune system. Emotional symptoms of compassion fatigue include feelings of powerlessness, anxiety, guilt and anger or rage. Caregivers may also feel survivor guilt, feelings of shutdown, numbness, fear and helplessness, or they may experience sadness, depression, feelings of being on an emotional roller coaster or of being depleted or overly sensitive (Philpott, n.d.). Compassion fatigue may also present with behavioral symptoms, such as impatience, irritability, being withdrawn or moody. Other behavioral symptoms include regression, sleep disturbances, nightmares, appetite changes, hyper vigilance, elevated startle response,
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