February 1, 2023

Burnout: What is it and what can you do about it?

These days, more and more people are suffering from burnout. From stay-at-home parents to healthcare workers to retail workers, stress levels are high and so are the levels of burnout associated with it. What can be done about burnout? To figure that out we first need to take a look at what burnout is so in the next few paragraphs, come with us as we explore burnout.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged or chronic stress. The symptoms of burnout can include physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, a reduced sense of accomplishment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.

Is Burnout a Mental Illness?

Burnout is not classified as a mental illness, but it is a condition that can have a significant impact on mental well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently recognized burnout as an occupational phenomenon, which is defined as "a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed."

While burnout is not a mental illness, it is often related to work-related stress, which can have a negative impact on mental health. It is important to seek help and support if you are experiencing burnout, as it can lead to other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety if left untreated.

What are the 5 symptoms of burnout?

Five symptoms of burnout are:

  1. Emotional exhaustion
  2. Cynicism and detachment
  3. Sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
  4. Physical and emotional fatigue
  5. Reduced productivity and accomplishment.

Who is Most at Risk for Burnout?

Individuals who are most at risk for burnout are those who are in high-stress occupations, such as healthcare workers, first responders, and social workers. Individuals who have a high level of responsibility, have a lack of control over their work, or have a high level of job demands are also at a higher risk for burnout.

How Do You Know if You are Suffering from Burnout?

There are several signs that may indicate that someone is experiencing burnout, including:

  1. Exhaustion: both physical and emotional fatigue, feeling mentally and emotionally drained.
  2. Loss of motivation: feeling unenthusiastic and apathetic towards work or activities that were once enjoyable.
  3. Decreased productivity: struggling to complete tasks and feeling a sense of ineffectiveness or lack of accomplishment.
  4. Emotional detachment: feeling detached or distant from colleagues, friends and family.
  5. Negative attitudes: feeling cynical or critical towards oneself or others.
  6. Physical symptoms: experiencing headaches, muscle aches, and other physical symptoms that are not caused by any underlying medical condition.

It's important to note that everyone's experience of burnout is different, and some people may experience only a few of these symptoms, while others may experience many. If you suspect that you may be experiencing burnout, it is important to speak with a mental health professional for a proper assessment and to develop a treatment plan.

burn out

What Is the Difference Between Burnout and Depression?

Burnout and depression are two separate conditions, but they share some similarities. Both can be caused by chronic stress and both can have a negative impact on mental well-being. There are some key differences between burnout and depression that are important to note:

  1. Cause: Burnout is often caused by chronic stress in a specific area of life, such as work or a specific relationship. Depression, on the other hand, can be caused by a variety of factors, including biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
  2. Symptoms: While burnout and depression share some symptoms, such as fatigue and a loss of motivation, depression is characterized by a more severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities. Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, a sense of ineffectiveness, and detachment from work or other activities.
  3. Treatment: The treatment for burnout and depression are different. Burnout treatment focuses on addressing the underlying causes of stress and teaching the person how to manage it better. Depression treatment often includes talk therapy (e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy), medication and self-care.

It's important to note that burnout and depression can co-occur, and people with burnout may develop depression and vice versa. A mental health professional can help to properly assess and treat both conditions.

How Can You Spot Burnout in Others?

To spot burnout in others, look for signs of physical and emotional exhaustion, such as fatigue, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Other signs can include cynicism and detachment, a reduced sense of personal accomplishment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.

How Can Burnout be Treated?

Treatment for burnout can include a combination of strategies, such as resiliency building, relaxation strategies, and stress management techniques. It is important to address the underlying causes of burnout, such as chronic stress, and to make lifestyle changes to reduce stress.

When burnout is left untreated, it can lead to more serious physical and mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease.

How can Burnout be Avoided?

To avoid burnout, it is important to find ways to manage and reduce stress, such as through exercise, meditation, and time management techniques. It is also important to set boundaries and prioritize self-care, as well as to make sure to take regular breaks from work and engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation. It's also crucial to have a good work-life balance, look for a job that aligns with your values, and to have supportive relationships and a positive social support network.

How Can CBT Help Treat Burnout?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative patterns of thought and behaviour. It can be used to help treat burnout by addressing the underlying causes of the condition, such as stress, high levels of responsibility, and unrealistic expectations. CBT can help individuals with burnout develop coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, set realistic goals and expectations, and improve their overall mental well-being. Additionally, CBT can teach people how to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that may be contributing to their burnout.

Can Archways Help Treat Your Burnout?

Yes, Archways can help you. Archways offers an Anxiety & Mood Clinic where we work with clients using strategies grounded in cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to help you get well and stay well. We work with adults up to approximately 70 years of age and we even have a Child & Adolescent Program.

For more information on this clinic and our other services, visit our website or give us a call to see if our Archways Anxiety and Mood Clinic is the right fit for you.

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