Burnouts: Definition, Symptoms and Recovery

Burnouts: Definition, Symptoms and Recovery

Burnouts: Definition, Symptoms, and Recovery


Burnout had several changing definitions over the years. The old definition labeled burnout as a state of vital exhaustion.

Today, the World Health Organization defines burnout as chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

In this article, we will briefly discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for burnouts.

The causes of a burnout

According to experts, burnouts are not the result of long working hours or too much workload. While these two factors definitely contribute to precipitating burnout, they cannot be the exclusive triggers of this condition.

Generally speaking, burnouts happen when the employee is experiencing:

  • Dissatisfaction with the way the work is carried out
  • Having to work at home
  • Going through conflicts with their sense of self

Furthermore, when the employee spends months or years working toward a goal that doesn’t come to reality, they tend to break down as well.

Studies showed that hiring the wrong person who’s not tailored to the given responsibilities could also trigger burnout.

The signs and symptoms of burnout

The primary problem with diagnosing burnout is the subtle signs and symptoms that could be mistaken for other mental or physical health problems.

The most notable symptom of burnout is mental exhaustion, which gives the person a sense of dread about work and frequent feelings of cynicism. Patients also report feelings of anger, irritability, and mood swings.

If you are a care provider (e.g., doctor, nurse, fireman), you may experience a reduced feeling of compassion toward the people you help. This is a clear sign of burnout that should get addressed.

As you can see, the symptoms of burnout are not specific and could be really subtle, which makes the diagnosis difficult.

However, the combination of the symptoms listed above with reduced work discipline and performance may be sufficient to pose the diagnosis.

The treatment of burnouts

Recovering from burnout depends on the work environment and whether there is any room for improvement.

For instance, working in a hospital or law enforcement is known to be grinding. However, anyone who’s experiencing symptoms of burnout has the right to take a break and reevaluate their career choice.

Of course, this doesn’t mean abandoning your job once you get burnout; however, it is crucial to take a break when necessary.

Psychology experts recommend developing a sense of purpose and having an impact on others. Moreover, thinking about how your work is making a change in the world also helps.

You don’t have to be a doctor saving lives to consider yourself contributing to the world. Every job matters!

Takeaway message

Burnout is a public health problem that’s negatively impacting millions of workers every year and wreaking havoc on the economy.

Hopefully, this article conveyed the importance of burnout and why we should pay more attention to the way we deal with this condition.