Compassion fatigue, also known as vicarious trauma and secondary stress reaction, describes a type of stress that results from helping or wanting to help those who are traumatized or under significant emotional duress.
UNDERSTANDING COMPASSION FATIGUE
Although compassion fatigue is sometimes called burnout, it is a slightly different concept. Unlike burnout, compassion fatigue is highly treatable and may be less predictable. The onset of compassion fatigue can be sudden, whereas burnout usually emerges over time. Additionally, severe cases of burnout sometimes require the person experiencing it to change jobs or occupations, but often measures can be taken to prevent or treat compassion fatigue before a change in work environment is required.
Compassion fatigue can be a precursor or a symptom of other stressors.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SYMPTOMS OF COMPASSION FATIGUE?
Compassion fatigue can take a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional toll on people who experience it. Common symptoms of compassion fatigue include:
Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion
Feelings of inequity toward the therapeutic or caregiver relationship
Feelings of self-contempt
Poor job satisfaction
WHO IS AT RISK FOR DEVELOPING COMPASSION FATIGUE?
Compassion fatigue can affect a wide range of professions and caregivers. It tends to be common among professionals who regularly work in a helping or healing capacity such as teachers, nurses, staff at long-term care homes, as well as frontline workers.