Compassion fatigue is a growing problem for nurses and professional caregivers. When nurses witness pain, fear, sickness, disease and even death they can start to feel the same pain and suffering that their patients experience. This can lead to compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is phrase used to describe “the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized person” (Tellie, 2008). It is often referred to as secondary traumatic stress syndrome and can lead to lack of empathy and caring emotions; two things that are needed in order to effectively care for sick and suffering patients. In this paper, the author will examine the five concepts of compassion fatigue and related symptoms and warning signs, explain the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the caregiver and identify coping strategies and resources available to caregivers.
Warning signs of five concepts of compassion fatigue
There are five major concepts of compassion fatigue: cognitive, emotional, behavioral, spiritual and somatic. Because of the array of different ways compassion fatigue can affect each person, symptoms may vary but there are warning signs that may signal someone is suffering from compassion fatigue. It is important to be able to recognize the warning signs of compassion fatigue in order to properly care for yourself before it becomes too late. Some warning signs associated with each concept are described below.
Cognitive warning signs can start off subtle with little things like forgetfulness and decreased concentration, but they can quickly increase causing inability to focus at work which can lead to poor patient care and even medical errors. Other cognitive warning signs include low self-esteem, memory loss and apathy (Bush, 2008). This can cause caregivers even more stress thus increasing compassion fatigue even more.
Emotional warning signs of compassion fatigue can cause caregivers to become easily frustrated, have increased irritability and even outbursts of anger. They can suffer from anxiety and depression which can lead to hopelessness and desire to avoid patients (Bush, 2008). This is a very serious work hazard.
Behavioral warnings signs include things such as moodiness, tardiness and absenteeism from work, and bad attitude toward work. Individuals experiencing behavioral symptoms generally will find excuses to call in to work or be in a bad mood the entire time they are working. They are also unable to take pride in their work or feel personal satisfaction for professional accomplishments. They may also work extra hours to try to make up for their negative feelings; however, this only ends ups leading to increased anger and resentment toward patients and the job.
Compassion fatigue can cause caregivers spiritual distress. They may begin to question the meaning of life or their purpose in life. They may also question their own personal values and beliefs. These are just...