Compassion Fatigue

Caring too much can hurt. When caregivers focus on others without practicing self-care, destructive behaviors can surface. Apathy, isolation, bottled up emotions and substance abuse have a long list of symptoms associated with the secondary traumatic stress disorder now labeled: Compassion Fatigue

Normal symptoms present in an individual with compassion fatigue include:  

  • Excessive blaming
  • Bottled up emotions
  • Isolation from others
  • Receives unusual amount of complaints from others
  • Voices excessive complaints about administrative functions
  • Substance abuse used to mask feelings
  • Compulsive behaviors such as overspending, overeating, gambling, sexual addictions                              
  • Poor self-care (i.e., hygiene, appearance)
  • Legal problems, indebtedness
  • Reoccurrence of nightmares and flashbacks to traumatic event
  • Chronic physical ailments such as gastrointestinal problems and recurrent colds
  • Apathy, sad, no longer finds activities pleasurable
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mentally and physically tired
  • Preoccupied 
  • In denial about problems    

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Compassion fatigue test: 1=very true; 2=somewhat true; 3=rarely true

  1. When people get upset, I try to smooth things out.
  2. I am able to listen to other’s problems without trying to “fix” them and/or take away their pain.
  3. My self-worth is determined by how others perceive me.
  4. When I am exposed to conflict, I feel it is my fault.
  5. I feel guilty when others are disappointed by my actions.
  6. When I make a mistake, I tend to be extremely critical of myself. I have difficulty forgiving myself.
  7. I usually know how I want other people to treat me.
  8. I tell people how I prefer to be treated.
  9. My achievements define my self-worth.
  10. I feel anxious in most situations involving confrontation.
  11. In relationships, it is easier for me to “give” than to “receive”.
  12. I can be so focused on someone I am helping that I lose sight of my own perceptions, interests and desires.
  13. It is hard for me to express sadness.
  14. To make mistakes means that I am weak.
  15. It is best to not “rock the boat” or “make waves.”
  16. It is important to put people at ease.
  17. It is best not to need others.
  18. If I cannot solve a problem, I feel like a failure.
  19. I often feel “used up” at the end of the day.
  20. I take work home frequently.
  21. I can ask for help but only if the situation is serious.
  22. I am willing to sacrifice my needs in order to please others.
  23. When faced with uncertainty, I feel that things will get totally out of control.
  24. I am uncomfortable when others do not see me as being strong and self-sufficient.
  25. In intimate relationships, I am drawn to people who are needy or need me.
  26. I have difficulty expressing my differing opinion in the face of an opposing viewpoint.
  27. When I say “no,” I feel guilty.
  28. When others distance from me, I feel anxious.
  29. When listening to someone’s problems, I am more aware of their feelings than I am of my own feelings.
  30. I find it difficult to stand up for myself and express my feelings when someone treats me in an insensitive manner.
  31. I feel anxious when I am not busy.
  32. I believe that expressing resentments is wrong.
  33. I am more comfortable giving than receiving.
  34. I become anxious when I think I’ve disappointed someone.
  35. Work dominates much of my life.
  36. I seem to be working harder and accomplishing less.
  37. I feel most worthwhile and alive in crisis situations.
  38. I have difficulty saying “no” and setting limits.
  39. My interests and values reflect what others expect of me rather than my own interests and values.
  40. People rely on me for support.

*If you find that you responded with a 1 (Very True) to more than 15 of these items, it’s definitely time to take a close and careful look at self-care issues.

Phone: (972) 584-9880
2785 Rockbrook Dr #305
Lewisville, TX 75067
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