More than a third of carers claim their financial situation is so dire they do not want to wake up in the morning, research indicates.
Around 59% of carers said they gave up paid work to look after a sick or disabled relative, while more than half of those who still work earn less than £10,000.
Six out of 10 carers said they spent all their savings supporting the person they care for, according to the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
Nearly two-thirds of carers borrowed money from family and friends to meet their day-to-day living costs, while 10% took out high interest loans.
Nine out of 10 carers say they are worse off financially as a result of their caring, 39% fear they will lose their home and 37% said their financial situation is so bad, they do not want to wake up in the morning.
The research found that the added financial pressure caused 45% of carers to want to run away from their role, while the same proportion said they were depressed and could not cope and 28% were suffering from stress.
A further 15% said they were turning to alcohol or drugs to cope and 37% said they felt fearful about the future.
One woman, Karen, 42, became a carer for her husband when he was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis and chronic arthritis.
She said since her husband became ill they fell into poverty, she was declared bankrupt and lost a well-paid job, and the couple lost their home. She said she was so desperate at one point, she borrowed money from a loan shark to cover an electricity bill, despite being charged interest of 47% a day.
Half of the 800 carers questioned by the trust said they want the Government to increase the Carers Allowance, while 29% want greater support to enable them to combine caring and paid work.