Depression - Nicole Inez Fuchs
5 minutes read

Burnout – Signs and Reasons of the syndrom

Burned out, weak and powerless, alive, but used up inside: This is how people suffering from burnout feel. Exhaustion, overload, and psychic stress are the words, which are now the centre of attention in the life of burnout patients. The increase of the pressure to perform in our society goes hand in hand with more and more diagnoses. More and more people feel physically and psychologically burned out. What is the reason for it? Are there signs, that someone is about to get lost in complete burnout? And how can it be avoided?

What are the symptoms of burnout?

The syndrome grows without realizing it at the beginning. That’s why the symptoms of burnout show themselves more and more over time. Affected people get lost in work and forget about everything else. Driven by ambition, perfectionism, and performance orientation, such a person gets obsessed with work. While burning out more and more and feeling powerless, he forgets to care for himself. The psychic exhaustion gets overwhelming over time. There is no time for relaxing or leisure activities.

So, the person feels increasingly stressed and controlled by the circumstances. Because there are no phases of regeneration, it leads to a feeling of constant burnout. Affected people appear frustrated, stressed, and absentminded. They are not able to relax anymore, even at night. So, they tend to use calming substances, which harm them even more in the end.

Here is an overview over the stages of burnout

Stages of Burnout

What are the physical symptoms of burnout?

The syndrome affects the mind as well as the body. Depending on the stage of burnout there are different kind of symptoms. Possible symptoms are muscle tension, backache, or headache. More serious signs are high blood pressure, an oppressive feeling in the chest and migraine. Patients often suffer from colds, put on or lose weight or, their eating habits have changed. Other symptoms are respiratory problems or sickness.

What are the causes of burnout?

Although every one of us could “burn out”, there are specific professions with a higher risk. Those are for example people who work in social jobs, doctors, police officers, executives, and managers. The burnout syndrome is a reaction to permanent exhaustion and stress. If someone invests too much over a period, without any senses of achievement, he is probably developing burnout. On the way to a complete burnout a person ignores his own boundaries permanently. There are no relaxing periods.

External causes of the syndrome

  • pressure to perform
  • double burden (private/career)
  • extreme situations at work
  • high responsibility
  • permanent stress

Internal causes of the syndrome

  • perfectionism
  • idealism
  • high desire for harmony
  • performance orientation above average
  • over-motivation

How to prevent burnout?

There are several things you can do to prevent burnout:

  • You do not have to be perfect
  • You can say no
  • Make sure to take breaks
  • Keep emotional distance to your job
  • Find your personal ways to relax
  • Avoid stress factors

Prevention is everything when it comes to this syndrome. You decide where and when to say no, how perfect things must be and how you deal with your tasks. It is also you, who decides how your leisure time is spent and with whom.

What can I do, when burnt out?

The sooner you realize that you feel overwhelmed and stressed, the better. So, it would be easier to leave the negative circumstances. Do you already know, how stressed you really are? If you are already diagnosed by your doctor, psychologist or therapist, there are different options. The best option would be psychotherapy or coaching. Through this you learn how to deal better with stress in the future. Burnout just shows you that something went wrong until now.

The two important points in a burnout therapy are:

  • To learn methods to relax and physical activity: In therapy you learn methods to relax. They show you how to relax in daily life. Physical activity helps, in general, to cope with daily stress. Sport relieves stress hormones and releases endorphins.
  • Optimizing of stress and time management: A life without stressing factors is not possible, but you have several options on how to react to it. Setting priorities, writing down dates or journaling are just some of them. To set boundaries is probably the most important skill to prevent burnout. If you can say “no” from time to time you say “yes” to yourself at the same time.

Burnout is a state, from which you can escape if you take care of yourself. How would you treat your true love? Would you let them work themselves into burnout? You would probably tell them, that you are concerned. Maybe you also would give them advice on how they could take care of themselves more. Now you imagine you are your true love.


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Updated on: 11. August 2020