Compassion fatigue, also known as secondary trauma, can be harmful to our quality of life in many ways. The onset can happen suddenly and is often mistaken for burnout.
Compassion fatigue can lead to interpersonal problems such as difficulties getting along with others and problems with intimacy, lead to disturbances and the ability to think clearly, feel effective, and maintain hope, lead to physical ailments such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.
High levels of cortisol, which is our primary stress hormone, can increase susceptibility to illness. Prolonged secondary trauma can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal conditions.