April Is National Stress Awareness Month …

With April being National Stress Awareness Month it’s the perfect time to identify the stressors in our lives. Those things that push our buttons, that not only negatively affects our mental and emotional health, but also does a number on our bodies.

Long term stress and anxiety can lead to a number a of physical problems, ranging from mild acne to severe depression. Some common symptoms of stress include: arrhythmia, high blood pressure, panic attacks, asthma, sleep disorders, acid reflux, ulcers, IBS, teeth grinding, weight gain, and headaches. If you struggle with any of these conditions, the cause may be stress related.

One particular group who struggle with stress and depression are those facing a terminal illness and those caring for patients them. Extended illnesses can compound the effects of stress on the mind & body, and depression has a negative effect on the immune system, making a person more vulnerable to infections. 

Family members taking on the role of primary caregivers often feel overwhelmed.  Provide your referral sources with materials to assist patients and their support teams.  Caregivers of Home Health & Hospice patients experience the physical stress that comes with caring for patients that are immobile or partially immobile, and the emotional stress of the reality of their loved one’s diagnoses. 

According to the FCA, here are symptoms to watch out for that you can share with your patients and their primary caregivers:

  • Feeling sad, tearful, empty, hopeless
  • Changes in eating habits—weight loss and no appetite or cravings with weight gain
  • Changes in sleep—too much sleep or not enough
  • Feeling tired all the time, difficulty being motivated to do anything
  • A loss of interest in people and/or activities that once brought you pleasure
  • Feeling numb
  •  Becoming easily agitated or angered
  •  Feeling that nothing you do is good enough
  •  Increase in alcohol or drug consumption
  •  Excessive time on the Internet
  •  Trouble focusing, thinking, or planning—as if your head was filled with fog
  •  Neglecting your physical well-being and appearance
  •  Thoughts of running away, or escaping from the situation
  •  Thoughts of death or suicide

 Ongoing physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic neck and back pain

People assume that once caregiving is over, the stress from providing hands-on care will go away. In an effort to return their life to normal, former caregivers may need to seek help for depression as well.