What is Compassion Fatigue?

Compassion Fatigue is a normal emotional and physical reaction to the knowledge of a stressful or traumatic event occurring to someone close to us and our attempts to help a significant other alleviate their suffering. (Figley, 1999)

Examples of emotional and physical reactions:

- Lowered mood

- Decreased interest / activity in things you enjoy

- Difficulty concentrating

- Guilt

- Sleep disturbances

- Distressing dreams

- Feeling detached from emotions and others

- Hopelessness (Figley, 1999)

Examples of situations that can contribute to compassion fatigue:

- Caring for a family member who is ill

- A family member is incarcerated or recently released

- Frequent violence in neighborhood

- Witnessing others suffering either through media coverage, line of work, or other sources.

Our innate desire to help and care for others deserves attention to maximize support and compassion for ourselves and those around us.

Counseling, support groups, personal care-plans, and self-help literature can have positive impacts on our desire to care for ourselves and others.

Further Reading on Compassion Fatigue

- Secondary traumatic stress: Self-care issues for clinicians,researchers, & educators By The Sidran Press.

- Trauma stewardship: An everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others. By Laura van Dernoot Lipsky

- http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers

- http://traumastewardship.com/


Figley, C.H. (1999). Compassion fatigue: Toward a new understanding of the cost of caring In Secondary traumatic stress: Self-care issues for clinicians,researchers, & educators (pp.3-28). Lutherville, MD: The Sidran Press.