A survey by a group of charities for Carers Week suggested 75% of those looking after a relative with health problems were unprepared for the responsibility - and four out of five felt they did not know where to seek support.
Andrew Barraclough, of the Carers Trust, said help is out there - if you know who to ask.
A report released for Carers Week by a group of charities has highlighted what they call a "woeful lack of support" for people taking on a caring role.
- 79% of carers said they were not aware of the support available
- 30% believed they had been given the wrong advice about the help on offer
- 96% felt more stressed because of caring
The charities behind the research said nearly 2,000 people take on a new caring role every week in the North East.
Six out of ten carers in the North East have suffered depression, according to new research carried out for Carers Week.
The report, organised by a group of charities, said 75% of carers feel "unprepared" for the responsibility of looking after someone. Researchers spoke to 74 carers in the region.