What is Caregiver Burnout or Compassion Fatigue?

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My wife is the one with PTSD but I am constantly exhausted, which makes me have a short temper and it is affecting our relationship. I keep hearing about compassion fatigue but don’t understand what that means. Why am I always so tired?


It is hard to be constantly supportive when your partner is struggling. "Walking on eggshells” takes energy and would make anyone tired. Caregivers need to take time to care for themselves and to get support in their role. It can be helpful to join support groups for caregivers or to find friends who you can talk with about your experiences. Taking care of your own mental health is important. What are you doing for yourself? Positive coping options can include making sure you are eating healthy, exercising, connecting with your faith or other social supports, etc. 

Posted on BrainLine September 2, 2021. Reviewed September 2, 2021.

About the author: Sheila A.M. Rauch, PhD, ABPP

Sheila A.M. Rauch, PhD, ABPP, is the Deputy Director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and Director of Mental Health Research and Program Evaluation at the VA Atlanta Healthcare System. Dr. Rauch has been developing programs, conducting research and providing PTSD and Anxiety Disorders treatment for over 20 years. Her research focuses on examination of mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of PTSD and improving access to effective interventions.

Professional headshot of Dr. Sheila Rauch smiling at the camera, wearing glasses in a royal blue top