Synonymous with work-based stress, burnout is a mental health condition that can affect people from all walks of life. No matter how secure you feel your life is, if you are overworked in any aspect of your life, burnout could become an issue.
Burnout is a condition caused by chronic stress and usually occurs when a person is overcome by emotional strain, demands on time, overwhelming work commitments or difficult periods in their personal life. Symptoms of burnout can be similar to those of depression and both conditions can be experienced together, triggered by the initial burnout experience. As stress continues, the individual suffering from burnout may find it impossible to continue with their job and handle pressures or responsibilities at home. Burnout is most effectively dealt with at an early stage, so it is advantageous to be able to recognise the signs to help alleviate or halt burnout before it occurs.
If you feel like you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of burnout, it is best to receive specialist burnout care at the earliest possible stage. This helps reduce the potential of further problems occurring from the condition later down the line.
As burnout is often caused by prolonged levels of stress, a burnout treatment programme’s focal point surrounds stress therapy and stress management. This, alongside additional psychotherapy methods such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, helps reduce stress levels so you can better perform in your day to day life. In addition, a burnout treatment programme focuses on developing effective techniques that can help manage stress levels in the future, which reduces the chance of intense stress and future burnouts reoccurring.
Also referred to as adrenal fatigue and exhaustion, the signs of burnout begin gradually, building up until the person is unable to function at their normal level both mentally and physically. Periods of intense stress, such as a high-pressure project at work or the illness of a loved one can cause the body to react in a negative manner. Gradually, the person suffering may lose interest in their work or home life and feel less motivated to do the activities they previously enjoyed. Feelings of hopelessness, intense fatigue and cynicism can all be signs of impending burnout, and being worried or preoccupied with work when not in the work environment (e.g. at the weekend) may signify the need to reduce stressors to combat a potential burnout.
Individuals may show different symptoms of burnout, but it’s worth noting that those who are perfectionists, have a high-stress job or increased responsibility at home (e.g. multiple children or a carer for a family member) may be more at risk. Burnout symptoms can include:
As mentioned, there are certain personality and lifestyle types that may be more susceptible to burnout; however, the condition can affect an individual regardless of their previous mental health history or job/home life. The UK government reported that 12.5 million sick days were taken in 2016/17 because of work-related stress and depression or anxiety. This demonstrates just how common these conditions are amongst the community.
Professor Christina Maslach has been studying burnout at the University of California, Berkeley since the 1970’s. Alongside her contributors, she came up with the following six components that can contribute towards burnout.
Workload - Juggling tasks, pressure from peers and impending deadlines.
Control - Feeling out of control with an inability to influence decisions.
Reward - Believing that hard work both at home or in the workplace is not recognised or rewarded.
Community - A lack of support from a community, be it colleagues or the local community can incite feelings of helplessness and despair.
Fairness - Perceived injustice is a powerful contributor to burnout symptoms, often culminating in a loss of control for certain situations.
Values - When values are not aligned it can cause extreme stress when in close proximity to those with opposing thoughts and opinions.
If you are struggling to manage current stress levels and feel you are suffering from a potential burnout, Contact Brevin today. A friendly member of our team will reply to you to discuss your condition and provide advice on how our in-home mental health services can help you.
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