Empathy Fatigue is becoming a more and more known phenomenon. It seems to happen gradually and primarily with people that work with people. Like counselors, social workers, medical doctors, nurses, education providers, massage therapists, supervisors, customer service providers etc.....
Signs and Symptoms - Physical
- Get sick easily
- Stay sick longer
- Throat pain
- Soar muscles and aches
- General sense of feeling tired all the time
- Some diagnosis might be:
- chronic fatigue
- "Mystery illnesses" - there is something not right, but a doctor can't tell you why you feel sick. "All your tests came back normal, I don't know what to tell you."
Sign and Symptoms - Mental:
- Brain fog
- Racing thoughts
- Exhaustive anxiety
- Negative thinking
- 'Too tired' to be happy
- Avoid having to make decisions
Signs and Symptom - Behaviors:
- Retreat from social activities
- Desire quiet, non-stimulating environments
- Avoid anything that might be stressful or challenging
- Do the least amount possible to get by at work
- Avoid volunteering for anything more or participating
- Avoid anything new
- Short fused or impatient
Signs and Symptom - Feelings/Emotions:
- More and more anxious the more fatigued you get
- "Can I make it through this lunch date?
- "Maybe I should just go home."
- "Am I going to get sick if I go to this party?"
- GUILT "I used to care about people and my job. What's wrong with me? Why do I hope that my next two patients no show for their appointments no I can go home early?"
- Frustration - Usually from people not believing you and accusing you of faking fatigue.
- "You don't look sick."
- "You just want someone else to do the heavy lifting."
- "Are you sure this isn't all in your head?"
- Frustration towards yourself that you can't do what you used to do.
- Fear that it is going to keep getting worse
- Fear that you will never be 'your old self' again
Other Signs and Symptoms:
- No longer creative or want to do anything creative
- 'All of Nothing' thinking' - Can't tolerate negotiation or investigation of middle grounds or compromise
- Want to do a good job but just can't anymore
- Used to care about work and people but don't have 'the energy' anymore
- Your passion for life and work is gone
- Get by at work, but spend evenings and weekends retreating, resting or sleeping.
- No more enjoying life or having fun. Do the job - go home and rest.
- Possible fighting with spouse and family because of lack of patience and participation in the family system.