Compassion fatigue, sometimes referred to as secondary traumatic stress, is characterized by a state of decreasing compassion over time. This condition often occurs in people who work directly with traumatized victims, e.g. nurses or other care givers. People can also find themselves on the edge of compassion fatigue due to extra caring for others and failing to practice self-care (Joslyn, 2002).
People who are self-giving often suffer from traumatic stress. For example, when caring for a family member or a close friend who has been stricken by a traumatic event, the care-giver may find himself or herself sympathizing with the victim too much to an extent of falling into deep sorrow. This may come as a result of the care-giver having the ability to empathize, which leads to him or her getting the notion of the sufferings that the victim is going through.
Compassion fatigue can also be caused by poor job performance. Everybody’s wish is to get job satisfaction. If, for instance, one finds himself in a profession that is not of his/her choice, it may lead to him/her being dissatisfied with the job, thus subjecting him/her to stress. The result of this may be lowering of the individual’s self esteem. Some jobs, for instance, those associated with health care involve delicate issues, and those join this profession having no passion for it may suffer from compassion fatigue as they are always exposed to a lot of people who are in trauma.
When one suffers from compassion fatigue, it is very easy for the people they are interacting with to read it from their face. This is because the signs are always clear and the behavior of someone suffering from it will differ from that of a normal person. Some of the signs are loss of morale, decrease in job performance, and deterioration of personality among others.
As noted from above, nurses in most cases are prone to experiencing compassion fatigue with their patients or clients. Empathy is one of the things that drive people to this profession. Nurses need to understand the pain and sufferings that their patients go through so that they can know how best to care for them. However, in most cases, nurses may find themselves caring too much for their patients and forgetting to practice self-care. This leads to compassion fatigue.
From the above discussion, it is clear that compassion fatigue affects people both physically and emotionally because of extra care for others who are in pain. It is therefore necessary for an individual suffering from compassion fatigue to take time for self-reflection. This can help in having the emotional reverse. In addition, one should spare time to spend with the family members and friends (Pfifferling, 2000).