2. Challenge: “I’m overwhelmed by how much there is to do.” The Caring.com survey found that 58 percent of caregivers spend more than 10 hours a week providing services including shopping, talking with doctors and administering medications; 22 percent spend upwards of 40 hours weekly on those kinds of tasks. “When you’re a caregiver, your day-to-day duties are literally doubled, and that can feel overwhelming, no matter how organized and capable you may be,” says Somers.

Solution: Focus on what’s truly important, and be up-front about your limitations. Talk to the person you are caring for about your disease and physical limitations so he understands what you can and can’t do, adds Dr. Putterman. And although it might be tempting to tackle the easiest tasks first, it’s smarter to identify and do what absolutely must get done before you run out of steam, he says. “When you have an autoimmune disease, you don’t have unlimited resources, so you shouldn’t try to accomplish every single thing,” he says. Having trouble prioritizing? Consider consulting a health advocate who specializes in caregiving. Many hospitals, community organizations and local government offices provide free advocacy services, or check the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants’ directory to find a professional.

3. Challenge: “Seeing my loved one this way makes me sad.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 9 percent of Americans have depression, but that number skyrockets to 20 to 50 percent among caregivers. Arthritis may pose an additional risk: At least one study, published in Arthritis Care and Research, suggests that up to 42 percent of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will experience depression at some point in their lives.

Solution: Give yourself some downtime, and focus on the positive. It’s crucial to give your brain and body a chance to recharge. “Even stealing five minutes to put on music in the car or call a friend when you’re out getting groceries is better than nothing,” says Somers.

It’s natural to be saddened by a difficult situation, but making a conscious choice to find the positive can do your heart and mind a world of good. “When I cared for my own mother, I found many wonderful aspects to the experience,” says Karen Robinson, PhD, executive director of the volunteer caregivers program at the University of Louisville School of Nursing in Kentucky. Among these wonderful aspects: the simple joy of knowing she was doing all she could for someone she loved.

But even the most positive person may not be able to prevent a caregiving situation from taking a heavy mental toll. If you’ve been feeling blue for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor; you may have clinical depression, which should be treated.