People involved in certain professions in Arizona, most particularly those related to health care, may be at risk for developing compassion fatigue. According to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project, constant exposure to the suffering of others, combined with the perceived futility of trying to bring about positive change in the world, can lead to both physical and mental negative health effects.
Those employed in caregiving professions may have a predisposition to compassion fatigue before they even begin working. From an early age, many of them have received instruction from parents, teachers and other authority figures that their own needs should be secondary to the needs of those around them. This combined with a strong identification with the suffering of others can cause them to take on too much responsibility for others and neglect self-care. Compassion fatigue may be the end result.
Psychology Today identifies a number of symptoms that indicate compassion fatigue. Some of the most significant include the following:
- Frequent work-related complaints
- Nightmares and insomnia
- Powerless or hopeless feelings
- Social isolation
Despite the potential of compassion fatigue to decrease quality of life, many people who exhibit symptoms are also in denial about it. The first step to recovery is to gain awareness of the problem through education. It is also crucially important to set and enforce boundaries with others that are clear and reasonable. Recognizing the difference between self-care and selfishness is also a necessary step in the right direction.
Recovery from compassion fatigue does not happen in a vacuum. It requires the individual to seek out the help and validation of supportive people.