CNA and Caregiver Burnout during COVID-19

CNA and Caregiver Burnout during COVID-19

Dr. Charlene Brown
Dr. Charlene Brown
Founder, Caregiver Jobs Now

The world is coping with a global viral infection that is unlike any other virus that we've ever seen. Covid 19 is the most simultaneously contagious and lethal virus of our lifetimes.

Millions have had COVID-19 and hundreds of thousands of them have died. The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads fast and the number of people getting sick is putting immense pressure on both our healthcare and supply chain systems. Many providers struggle to provide enough personal protective equipment to keep their staff safe.  This means that the normally stressful job of working as a professional caregiver is more difficult and stressful than ever before. 

So, how does a CNA, HHA, Personal Care Aide or Caregiver deal with burnout during the global coronavirus pandemic? Let's review.

Who is on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic?

Certified nursing assistants, nurse’s aides, home health aides, medication technicians, and others are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and I know that you are tired! Tired of working without the proper personal protective equipment and scared that you and the people who you love may become sick.  CNA, HHA, PCA, and others spend the most time with patients and residents and are the least able to put distance between themselves and the older adults in their care. 

We appreciate you and all the work that you do despite the personal risks. 

What’s the Difference Between Caregiver Burnout and Depression?

CNA burnout, caregiver burnout, and depression are very, very important. They may appear similar, but they are not the same.   

Differences in Depression and Caregiver Burnout

  • Depression, or clinical depression, is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or reduced interest in things that you used to enjoy.  
  • Burnout is a negative reaction to a stressful situation in a caregiving environment.

Why do depression and caregiver burnout seem so similar? 

Depression often presents as a sense of hopelessness, robbing people of their happiness. Burnout feels like total exhaustion of your energy and ability to perform caregiving duties

BUT, depression is a severe mental health challenge. Seek help from qualified and licensed mental health professionals. They can help to differentiate between caregiver burnout and clinical depression. Mental health professionals (e.g. therapist, psychiatric social worker, psychiatrist) can help caregivers to cope with caregiver burnout through therapy, medication, stress reduction, and more.  Be sure to get help. During this period of social distancing, you may be able to get help through telemedicine. 

Preventing and Managing Caregiver Burnout

Caregivers can tackle their burnout by taking a break from the stress of their work to focus on themselves. Be careful not to confuse depression with burnout. Seek help from a therapist or medical professional if you think that you might be depressed. We encourage caregivers to take time out for themselves and do things that make them feel happy and at peace. Things that caregivers can do to reduce stress and cope with burnout include:

  • Meditate
  • Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
  • Eat healthy food
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Do things that bring you joy
  • Reach out to other caregivers for support
  • Ask for help when needed
  • Accept help when offered
  • Join a caregiver support group
  • Seek a therapist to talk to
  • Become aware of your feelings and needs
  • Continually research better methods to help your patient
  • Take vacation days or family leave time
  • Realize you can only do your best
  • Focus on the positives

Learn New Coping Mechanisms

  • Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, being present, breathing, and muscle relaxation.
  • Accept your negative feelings. It’s ok to feel angry, frustrated or stressed at times. The trick is not to spiral with these thoughts and feelings. Realize these thoughts and opinions are temporary, and they are reasonable.


Additional strategies include:

  • Take breaks when needed
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Positive Affirmations
  • Let go of the need to control
  • Realize you can only do your best
  • Do kind to yourself
  • Let go of guilt
  • Know your limitation and boundaries
  • Focus on the positives

How to Recognize Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver stress and burnout can be diagnosed by your doctor or mental health professional. You can also take online assessment tests HERE to learn more about caregiver burnout. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression or caregiver burnout, contact your health care professional immediately.

In conclusion, CNA, HHA, and other caregivers must make sure to take care of themselves. When you take care of yourself, you are making yourself into a better professional. When you take care of yourself, you become a better caregiver to the people who need you.

For more excellent resources on caregiving, please visit 


Caregiver burnout covid 19

Dr. Charlene Brown

Dr. Charlene Brown is the Founder of Caregiver Jobs Now where we connect CNA and Caregivers to meaningful jobs. She is a recognized expert in public health who is Board-certified in Preventive Medicine, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, and licensed to practice medicine in the State of Maryland. She is also the founder of, a company creating CNA simulations for certified nursing assistants during the pandemic.

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