For decades caregiver distress (psychological and physical) has been considered an inevitable outcome of providing care for family members, loved ones, and others who require assistance. This negative assessment of informal caregiving pervades not only peer-reviewed scientific articles, but also caregiving-relevant agency reports, fact sheets, policy recommendations, advice columns, and media discussions. Our review critically examines this assessment in light of important methodological limitations of supporting studies, and considers theory and research that suggest an alternative appraisal of caregiving. We find that the case for an overall negative evaluation of caregiver effects is, for the most part, unjustified. Indeed, recent data suggest that giving may yield beneficial health and well-being outcomes, including reduced mortality for informal caregivers. An alternative, more balanced view of caregiving has important implications for research and theory, caregiver assessment and intervention, and public policy.