Eighty per cent of people in Northern Ireland looking after an ill, frail or disabled loved one do not have a life outside of their caring role, new research has suggested.
The survey was carried out by Carers Week, which is made up of several different charities.
The results showed that huge numbers of carers are left isolated and lonely, missing out on opportunities that the rest of the population takes for granted.
The results indicated that 79% of people have been forced to give up leisure activities since becoming a carer.
The majority of those surveyed said they can no longer rely on relatives for support either, as these relationships have suffered as a result of caring.
Some carers said they feel marginalised and invisible.
The survey found that many carers felt unable to socialise, to have romantic relationships, or even to consider having children due to the emotional, mental, physical, and financial burden of their role.
Three quarters of carers surveyed said they are worse off financially, while 57% said they had to give up work.
Charities estimate that careers save the UK economy around £87bn annually by relieving pressure on health and social services.
But they argue that carers are not being supported in the role that they play for their communities and society.
Almost all carers questioned in the survey agreed a life of their own would be achievable if they received breaks, a decent income and were given support in times of crisis.
Carers Week is organised by 7 national charities: Carers UK, Counsel and Care, Crossroads Care, Help the Hospices, Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson's UK and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.