"Disaster behavioral health response work can be very satisfying, but it can also take its toll on you. In this tip sheet, you will learn about the causes and signs of compassion fatigue (CF) and tips for how to prevent it from happening to you. Research indicates that CF is made up of two main components: burnout and secondary traumatic stress. When experiencing burnout, you may feel exhausted and overwhelmed, like nothing you do will help make the situation better. For some responders, the negative effects of this work can make them feel like the trauma of the people they are helping is happening to them or the people they love. This is called secondary traumatic stress. When these feelings go on for a long time, they can develop into 'vicarious trauma.' This type of trauma is rare but can be so distressing that the way a person views the world changes for the worse."
HHS Publication No. SMA-14-4869; Health and Human Services Publication No. SMA-14-4869
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: http://store.samhsa.gov/