Episode 281: Passing on Trauma & Caregiver Burnout


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Hello, friends. In this Q&A, I answer listener questions related to the worry of passing on your own mental health troubles and past experiences to your child, and recognizing the characteristic of burnout and compassion fatigue in a high pressured caregiving job and what you can do to help cope with it.

Question 1:

Hello! I have a question for the pod. I’ve had a lifelong struggle with anxiety stemming from a childhood of neglect and some emotional abuse. Through couples counseling, individual therapy, and EMDR I’ve worked on this a lot and my once severe anxiety is now very manageable. I’m also currently on a low dose of sertraline for PPD which has helped even more. Occasionally though, ways that my childhood messed me up still pop up. For example, something I’m currently working on is every time my husband loads the dishwasher I think he’s mad at me and I have to stop myself from getting us into a huge fight. He assures me that he has no emotional associations with the task

My question is, what can I do to ensure that I’m not passing on these anxieties/traumas/whatever to my son who’s currently 6 months old? I’m a preschool teacher and I feel very confident in my teaching and parenting but I still worry about this a lot. Thank you for all you do, your podcast is wonderful!

Question 2:

I work in a hospital as a patient safety assistant. We are frequently looked down upon as being “just sitters”, but there are days when it can be a difficult job both physically and mentally. In my hospital, my coworkers and I sit with patients for a broad variety of reasons – fall risk, Alzheimer’s, dementia, mental or emotional disturbances that could cause behavior that could be dangerous to patients or others, suicidal or homicidal ideation, drug and alcohol detox patients, and patients with other conditions which could cause confusion, delirium, hallucinations, etc. Our patients are frequently aggressive, violent, and act out physically and verbally toward us as their primary targets in the room who are enforcing restrictions upon them. It’s a weekly occurrence to be hit, kicked, bit, and spit upon just for trying to keep the patient from pulling out catheters and IVs or telling them that they cannot get up without more assistance. It has been suggested that burnout and compassion fatigue are things that affect people who work with patients who are at high risk of dying, such as in ER’s, ICU’s, hospices, and nursing homes.

My position in the hospital has a very high employee turnover rate. I have been suffering with what is generally listed as symptoms of burnout and of compassion fatigue. My question is, whether it is likely for a person in my position to indeed suffer from these conditions, and how might I address it and train new people in this job to recognize, minimize, and cope with it. Most people believe that we simply sit in a patient’s room all day and read or do word puzzles while they sleep, and this is often how the job is explained to new employees. However, that is usually the case with our best patients, on our best days, when their order for a PSA is about to be canceled as no longer needed. We are given little information on these issues since we are not nurses or techs in areas of higher patient mortality, but are people of various stages of life, from students to retirees, required only to be high school graduates, 18 or over, and drug and tobacco-free. I am looking for advice on where to find the best resources to help myself and others in this situation. If this is not a situation that can experience burnout and compassion fatigue, what would have similar characteristics and how do I help myself and others to recognize and cope with it.

Episode 281 – Related Posts

As well as listening to the podcast, you can also find my thoughts on the questions in written format in these related posts!

Question 1 – How Can I Prevent Passing On My Trauma To My Kids? – Duff The Psych

Question 2 – Burnout and Compassion Fatigue – What Can You Do? – Duff The Psych


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The post Episode 281: Passing on Trauma & Caregiver Burnout appeared first on Duff The Psych.

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