What is caregiver anger?
Many caregivers feel angry at some point. They may curse, yell, get irritated, withdraw, or even get physically sick. Caregiver anger usually comes from feeling out of control, overwhelmed, anxious, scared, tired, or stressed. As a caregiver, you may feel angry that others are not helping enough, or angry at yourself for not doing more. You may be angry because of a change in routine or lifestyle.
You may feel that you need more information regarding the cancer and cancer treatment from health care professionals. You may be unhappy with the care your loved one has received or dissatisfied with the way in which healthcare professionals have included you in the patient’s care. You may be angry with other cancer-related issues such as the cost or financial burden. You may feel that the situation is unfair and/or too much. You may experience a sense of loss.
What can I do about my anger?
Here are some tips for dealing with your anger:
- Try to identify what causes the anger.
- Get help with caregiving.
- Do not let anger build up.
- Talk to someone to express your anger. Try not to hide your feelings. Sharing how you feel helps others understand and gives them a chance to help.
- Recognize when you’re angry.
- Explore what’s causing the feeling. There may be perfectly good reasons you’re upset.
- Remove yourself from the situation. Take a short break when you need to.
- Find someone that you can talk to about your feelings. This could be a trusted friend, a mental healthcare professional, or counselor.
- Avoid lashing out at others.
- Try putting yourself in the other person's shoes.
- Use your anger to motivate you to take action.
- Find a support group for caregivers.
- Ask friends and family to distract you when you are angry.
- Avoid abusing alcohol or other substances to relieve your anger.
- Use physical activity to release your anger.
- Try using relaxation techniques, massage, or art and music therapy.
When should I talk to my doctor about my anger?
Call 911 or your health provider immediately if you feel you might harm yourself or someone else. Also, contact your healthcare provider if you:
- Are over-using alcohol or other substance to deal with your feelings
- Have lost your appetite or are over-eating
- Are feeling alienated, hopeless, or alone
- Feel like you are losing control (physically or emotionally)
- Begin to treat others poorly
- Feel angry all or most of the time
- Notice that people are avoiding you because of your anger
- Need counseling or other support services
- Cancer.Net. (2022). How to Cope with Anger. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/managing-emotions/how-cope-wi…
- Levoy, K., Wool, J., Ashare, R.L., Rosa, W.E., Barg, F.K., Meghani, S.H. (2022). “It’s rougher on me than it is on him”: Family caregiver-generated and prioritized illness concerns while patients undergo cancer treatments. JCO Oncology Practice, 18(4), e525-e536. doi: 10.1200/OP.21.00164.
- Zauszniewski, J.A., Burant, C.J., MartinR.J., Sweetko, J.S., DiFranco, E. (2022). Caregivers' use of personal and social resourcefulness: Differences by care recipient condition. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 44(3), 288-295. doi: 10.1177/01939459211050951.