Burnout is most commonly associated with a stressful job or an overload of work. This certainly may be a common trigger, but at the same time, let’s not forget about other reasons for burnout: It can also be long-term caring for somebody severely ill, chronic tensions and quarrels inside the family, heavy financial debts, an ongoing crisis in partnership relations and others.
A fire is a very pleasant thing. It offers you warmth, light and a cozy feeling. On the other hand, all this wonder is not for free. As a rule, a fire needs to be fueled permanently, for it not to die. It needs to take energy from somewhere.
And the same applies to humans. In order to be active and full of energy in our job and in our family life, we need to keep our energy management in balance. We can keep giving and be productive only if we also have where to take for ourselves. If there is an imbalance for too long, things start to go wrong, and burnout syndromes are likely to appear.
Burnout is most commonly associated with a stressful job or an overload of work. This certainly may be a common trigger, but at the same time, let’s not forget about other reasons for burnout: It can also be long-term caring for somebody severely ill, chronic tensions and quarrels inside the family, heavy financial debts, an ongoing crisis in partnership relations and others. This shows that burnout cannot be viewed simply as a manager disease, but it rather must be understood as an illness that can affect anybody. It is on the rise! A recent Gallup study (CNBC, AUG 14, 2018) of nearly 7.500 full-time employees found that 23% of the respondents reported feeling burned out at work very often or even all the time, while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes.
The burnout syndrome itself is characterized by a wide range of symptoms—both physical and mental. On the physical side, we find chronic fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, increased illness and others. The mental symptoms can include a lack of concentration, forgetfulness, anxiety, lack of joy and depressive feelings. Professional and family relationships may then become impaired by moods like lack of joy, isolation, poor performance, bad communication, increased irritability, apathy and others. In short, the burned-out person feels that the fuel tank is empty and there is nowhere to take from...
However, the difficulty is the fact that the affected person often doesn’t understand what is going on. Nothing visible or obvious may have changed. Often, overburdening has been going on for years, and the sudden complications are hard to understand. This all makes it difficult to find out where and how to seek help.
The way out of this unhappy situation must be examined individually. First, it is important, to understand the reasons that brought about this situation. This, of course, can vary to a large extent, however, certain characteristics are always present:
- The situation in question has been going on for a long time, i.e. at least for months and mostly for years.
- The affected person is unable to manage or influence the stressing factors.
- Despite substantial efforts for change and improvement, the situation stays the same or even deteriorates.
- Key symptoms of physical and emotional exhaustion, such as apathy and lack of accomplishment, appear.
- The affected person is caught in a vicious cycle leading to a deepening of burnout syndromes.
Once burnout has been diagnosed, counter-measures and proper treatment can be taken. First, an analysis of the actual psycho-social situation leading up to the syndrome provides the basis for the most urgent steps. Usually, this consists of taking the person out of the causal situation, e.g. using sick leave, changing the work position, and in very severe cases, even hospitalization. Later, after the patient has recovered from the worst fatigue and exhaustion, individually tailored therapy can start, sometimes supported by medication. Step-by-step, the patient regains their previous healthy state and a feeling of well-being.
Should you experience any of the symptoms described above, do not hesitate to book your appointment in time to prevent any further progression of this desease!
Author: MUDr. Ondřej Masner, Leading physician of psychosomatic medicine at PSYMED