What is a Burnout and What are the Symptoms of this Disease


A burnout is a specific reaction to too much stress. When one has burnout they are emotionally exhausted from human interaction. Especially people who work in social groups and communities like in health care or in education can be under a lot of stress at the workplace. According to the article "A support system to mitigate manager burnout" by Sciencedirect, written by M.H. Tabacchi, C. Krone and B. Farber, women and managers are more often affected by this condition than other groups of people.

Symptoms of a Burnout

The term burnout was used for the first time in the beginning of the seventies. The American psychotherapists Herbert Freudenberger and Christina Maslach came up with the name. According to the website stressreductionbasics.com, there are four general basic symptoms: a pessimistic approach on life, cynicism, hopelessness and being cut off from others. But there are more symptoms, like:
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Short temper
  • Getting tired too early
  • Frustration and lack of power
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Isolation

More severe mental symptoms like depression, obsession and fear or feelings of guilt can occur when someone is not taking care of his or her burnout in time.

How to Recover from a Burnout

To recover from a burnout, it is important that the person changes not only him or herself, but also the work environment. If only one of the two changes, the burnout will not completely disappear. The four aspects that may need change are: the person or personal trades (like learning how to relax with relaxation exercises), something about the environment (less people in the room, less phone calls) and/or a lot about the environment (another job, another organization). What needs changing depends a lot on the person and the situation he or she is in.

Therapy and a Burnout

It is said that therapy is not a necessity. It is important that sufficient changes are made to avoid a high stress work culture. Still, therapy can be beneficial for certain people. Especially when the source of the burnout is “wrong thinking”, like “I am not good enough” or “people don’t like me here.” Often it only requires short therapy, from 12 to 15 sessions. The therapist will help the client figuring out what the reasons were for the burnout and how to change or deal with them.

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