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Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue is the cumulative physical, emotional and psychological effect of exposure to traumatic stories or events when working in a helping capacity, combined with the strain and stress of everyday life.  You may be a mental health worker, an emergency responder, a medical professional, a pastor, a veterinarian, a parent, a teacher, in law enforcement, in public safety, or an acupuncturist.  Research indicates that your close proximity to the trauma experienced by your clients, patients, students, people whom you serve, or family members can result in your own version of traumatic stress, or compassion fatigue.  It’s important to note that compassion fatigue is different than burnout.  While burnout is predictable, building over time and resulting in work dissatisfaction, compassion fatigue has a narrower focus.

In addition to the toll taken by the emotional and physical exhaustion, research has shown that job performance greatly suffers.  Morale becomes low or nonexistent.  The compassion that leads one to provide their form of service is no longer there or can no longer be accessed.  This loss of empathy also affects personal relationships, leading to anxiety, depression, isolation, and increased illness, stress leave and divorce rates.

 

Compassion Fatigue Symptoms

Symptoms can develop on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels affecting behavior, interpersonal relationships, and job performance.  Recognizing these symptoms as warning flags can enable you to take positive action to seek help and address the underlying cause of the symptoms.  Developing a plan of action based on self-care is critical for you recovery.

 

PHYSICAL

Aches, Pains
Shock, Sweating
Tachycardia
Breathing Difficulties

MENTAL

Loss of Confidence
Poor Concentration
Rigidity
Apathy

EMOTIONAL

Guilt
Anxiety
Rage
Depression

SPIRITUAL

Loss of Meaning
Hopelessness
Anger at God
Loss of Religious Beliefs

Self Help for Compassion Fatigue Symptoms

Exercise
Proper Rest & Diet
Drink Water
Acupuncture, Bodywork
Meditate
Write Things Down
Use Goal Setting
Anticipate needs
Feel What You Feel
Laugh
Ask for Help
Get a Venting Buddy
Prayer
Spiritual Retreats
Rituals of Faith
Mindfulness

 

Compassion Fatigue

If you are involved in a helping profession or caregiving and are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you may be suffering from Compassion Fatigue.  As a Compassion Fatigue Educator, Lorie can help you develop a self-care plan of action based on your needs and help you get the care you need.

 

Compassion Fatigue Resources

 

Professional Quality of Life Scale – ProQOL

 

Figley Institute

 

Gift From Within

 

Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project