Mar 11, 2001
I have heared the term 'HIV Burnout' used but dont know anything about it. My dad has AIDS which has obviously put a huge strain on me, and is affecting my work etc. It has caused depression in me and I have an appointment to see my doctor about it as Im feeling desperate for some help. Is my situation classed as HIV Burnout or is this a term that only applies to a person who is HIV+?
Response from Dr. Frascino
Sorry to hear about your dad.
The term "HIV Burnout" actually was first applied to physicians caring for HIV patients, particularly early in the epidemic when we had very little to offer those who were infected. Subsequently, the term was expanded to include all HIV caregivers. Even though the term is rarely used now, and when it is, it is primarily applied to doctors and nurses, certainly you are caring for your dad and this has resulted in considerable stress for you. Should your situation be called "HIV Burnout?" Well, if you like, but what's in a name? You are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression that can accompany anyone caring for a loved one coping with a significant medical problem - AIDS, cancer, stroke, severe trauma, etc. I'm glad to hear you have an appointment with your doctor to discuss your situation. Caring for someone with a chronic illness is indeed extremely stressful. Your physician will discuss ways to cope with the pressure. Expanding your dad's support network may be helpful, so that all the burden doesn't rest on your shoulders all the time. There are also support groups for individuals caring for loved ones with HIV/AIDS. Depression/anxiety can often be treated with counseling and with medications. Your dad needs you and in order for you to be effective in helping him, you must also take care of yourself. Adequate diet, rest, exercise, time with friends, etc. are all very important in recharging your "emotional batteries" to give yourself the strength to cope with your dad's illness. You're making the right move in seeing your doctor. I'm hoping your "burnout" is very transient and that soon you'll be fully recharged. Best of luck with your very difficult situation.
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