What is caregiver anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness, discomfort or impending doom. It is common for people taking care of someone with cancer to experience anxiety. It can be caused by a loss of control, fear for the patient’s well-being, worry over family finances, uncertainty about the future, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Caregivers with anxiety can have physical and emotional symptoms. Emotionally, you may feel tense, worried, wary, agitated, or distracted. Physically, you may tremble, sweat, or shake. You may be short of breath, have a rapid heart rate, or feel like your heart is pounding in your chest. You may have an upset stomach, headaches, loss of appetite, nausea, or difficulty sleeping.
What can I do about my anxiety?
Here are some tips you may find helpful:
- Get help with caregiving.
- Try to identify what "triggers" your anxiety.
- List things that have helped in the past, and then try them out.
- Talk about your feelings with others. Be honest. Try to describe your how you're truly feeling. Ask your family and friends for ideas on managing your anxiety.
- Try to find a support group or online forum for caregivers.
- Learn about the patient’s type of cancer, treatment and what to expect. You can research this yourself or ask someone to do it for you.
- Do things you enjoy or find distracting, like listening to music.
- Try using controlled breathing or guided imagery to relax. Consider asking a friend to help with this.
- Surround yourself with friends if that relaxes you.
- Try prayer or meditation.
- Get exercise. For example, go for a walk with a friend.
- Get a massage.
- Limit caffeine, including coffee, colas, black teas, and chocolate.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Ask your doctor for a counseling referral, or talk to him or her about medications for anxiety.
When should I talk to my doctor about my anxiety?
Talk to your doctor if you have:
- Constant fearfulness, worry or impending doom
- Depression that lasts longer than two weeks
- Trouble eating
- Shortness of breath that keeps coming back
- Sleep problems
- Heart racing or beating hard in the chest
- Constant irritability
- Excessive sweating