Burnout Syndrome: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Recommendations

It is a mental disorder characterized by the state of emotional tension and stress caused by exhausting working conditions.

You could say that it is the consequence of busy lives.

The burnout syndrome, or professional burnout syndrome, was described in 1974 by Freudenberger, an American physician.

More than the daily stress felt at work, Burnout syndrome can have severe consequences for physical and mental health.

Over time, it can even lead to memory, attention, and emotional problems. But burnout doesn’t have to be a fact of everyday life.

While there is no easy answer to dealing with that, there are clear triggers that can be watched and techniques that can be used to help navigate, alleviate, or recover from burnout.

Burnout syndrome is a complex, profoundly personal problem with no one-size-fits-all answer.


There is a difference between the kind of exhaustion you feel after a long day of meaningful work and the perpetual fatigue of burnout.

The psychological syndrome, called Burnout syndrome, is a consequence of prolonged and chronic interpersonal stressors at work, causing overwhelming burnout, feelings of cynicism, detachment from work, a sense of ineffectiveness, and lack of achievement.

Burnout is not just an increase in stress; more than simply being irritated or tired from the workload, a person suffering from Burnout syndrome will feel constantly exhausted, as if work does not matter. It often presents the conceptions of pessimistic of themselves and others.

Causes of burnout syndrome

Burnout syndrome can be caused by individual exhaustion and is seen as the result of factors associated with the inner self that is excessively negative.

Burnout syndrome can also be interpersonal; it is expressed as the result of complex relationships with other people at work or in the environment, such as a boss, coworker, or people with whom he lives daily.

And finally, the Burnout syndrome can be labor or organizational and arises from the incompatibility between the person and the work.

While these causes will not change the effects of Burnout syndrome, they are the first step in understanding where the most significant stressors are in an individual’s life.

Neuroticism, perfectionism, and suffering from an incredibly self-critical nature can lead to personal burnout, while dealing with an aggressive or unfair boss can cause interpersonal or organizational burnout.

The more we understand where the burnout syndrome comes from, the more likely we will attack it.

Signs and symptoms of burnout syndrome

With the hustle and bustle so common, it’s hard to differentiate a temporary feeling from a much more severe problem.

Chronic fatigue and physical and emotional exhaustion

Burnout syndrome and depression share many of the same symptoms.

If left unchecked, burnout syndrome can quickly turn into chronic depression and infiltrate all aspects of an individual’s life.

One of the main signs of burnout syndrome and depression at an early stage is a feeling of exhaustion, with no relief in sight.

Although all people get tired, the constant fatigue associated with burnout syndrome is entirely different, so people with this syndrome have the following characteristics:

  • You wake up exhausted even if you go to bed early.
  • You move more slowly than usual and take longer to get ready to leave the house.
  • Even when you do small tasks, you feel like they use up more energy than you have.
  • You are afraid of what awaits you today and tomorrow.

This mental exhaustion can also manifest itself physically, with an increased vulnerability to colds and flu, nausea, and headaches.

Of course, a doctor should be seen if these types of physical symptoms are persistent, but you should be aware that they could be due to more than just germs or infections.

Cynicism and detachment

It is natural to go through periods of less pleased with the work done.

But if this feeling doesn’t go away, persists even during time with friends and family, or if the individual is concerned about how they can escape work and projects altogether, it is a huge red flag that they could be suffering from burnout syndrome.

In addition, burnout syndrome can lead to increased pessimism, the individual being less trusting of coworkers, friends, and family, isolation and antisocial behavior, and the general feeling of being disconnected from people and their environment.

A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

Once the burnout syndrome reaches a certain level in the individual, it is inevitable that it will affect their work and how their values ​​are perceived in the workplace.

Apathy, helplessness, and even hopelessness may begin to develop, which can lead the individual to feel ineffective and useless, and even frustrated and angry at their lack of productivity.

Some signs to watch out for are:

  • The absence from work.
  • Aggressiveness
  • Isolation.
  • The mood swings.
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Memory lapses.
  • The anxiety.
  • The depression .
  • Pessimism.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • The headache.
  • The migraine .
  • The fatigue.
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations.
  • The high blood pressure.
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia.
  • Asthma attacks.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders.

Diagnosis of burnout syndrome

The diagnosis considers the collection of the patient’s history and their involvement and personal fulfillment at work.

The psychometric responses to a questionnaire based on the Likert scale also help establish the diagnosis.

Treatment of burnout syndrome

Treatment includes the use of antidepressants and psychotherapy. Regular physical activity and relaxation exercises also help control symptoms.

Burnout syndrome caused by work

While the workload itself can be one of the leading causes of burnout, you may be facing the symptoms of burnout syndrome.

Many of the signs and symptoms of burnout syndrome can be related to induced stress in the workplace:

  • Rude and inconsiderate teammates or leaders can lead to increased cynicism and pessimism about your workplace
  • Unfair processes, such as seeing those who do not deserve to be rewarded publicly, can cause detachment and apathy

In many cases, the individual must look beyond the individual and understand that their environment is equally responsible for their mental state. Identifying and talking about these issues can help relieve stress.

Strategies to protect yourself from burnout syndrome

Work-related stress and burnout syndrome have been subjects of research during the last decades with many proven strategies and techniques to help protect from its effects; among them, the following stand out:

Reduce stressors in life.

When our daily stress becomes common, we risk suffering from burnout syndrome.

First, look for some stressors at work that can lead to more severe burnout. Here are some examples that you might face daily:

  • Unrealistic deadlines.
  • Frequent schedule conflicts or interruptions.
  • Unpredictable schedules that do not allow for planning an adequate rest.
  • Overcome challenges associated with new software, processes, or changing environments.
  • Responsibilities are added that go beyond the scope of the initial job and are not compensated equally.
  • Interpersonal demands, such as dealing with demanding clients or coworkers

It would help if you tried to identify these factors early on and make changes to eliminate them from your daily life.

For example, if deadlines are constantly being pursued, the amount of work being done may need to be reduced, or more time may need to be requested.

If you are faced with scheduling conflicts and uncertainties, you should try to create a daily template on your calendar with room for meaningful and productive work to ensure that your scheduled work is getting done.

Get rid of digital clutter.

With so much time spent on screens, we replaced the cluttered desk full of stacks of papers and tilted notes to call colleagues with virtual clutter.

Browser windows with hundreds of tabs open, the desktop is completely cluttered with files, and there is an overflow of inboxes.

This digital hoarding can make it impossible to catch up.

To help solve this problem, you must optimize the use of the tools.

There are two methods to achieve digital minimalism:


Take inventory and remove any digital tools, apps on your home screen, or services that send you notifications and add only those that provide value.


Eliminate everything initially and start over with a focus on value.

You can even identify the most used tools to see which ones add value and which only increase noise.

Use strategies to protect time

Saying yes to everything and filling the calendar is a slippery slope to burnout syndrome.

It will soon be packed, and only the precedent will have been set that it will always be available.

There will always be problems setting limits, and it is often believed that more can be done in your time than you do.

And at the end of the day, you’ve barely exceeded half your scheduled goals, and the idea of ​​adding your to-dos to the next day’s to-do list is terrifying.

The most obvious solution here is to know how long the tasks will take and to be realistic about how much can be done in a day.

Instead, we can help protect ourselves from overloaded calendars that cause exhaustion by saving the time we have and by following the recommendations below:

Set aside uninterrupted time for your most important work every day.

This is unshakable, and all other appointments and work will have to wrap around you, or else don’t schedule them for that day. Set expectations around response time.

Set specific “business hours” to answer emails and messages and let it be known that you are only available at that time.

Take breaks and practice “productive procrastination.”

Schedule non-work events in your day, such as going for a walk, meeting a friend, or playing with your children. Anything that involves being away from work.

The benefits of taking breaks in this way have been well documented.

Not only are periods of inactivity needed during the day, but walking, especially outdoors, can ease mental fatigue and even help you get more sleep at night.

Activities that bring a social aspect to the day-to-day also give that much-needed time to connect and make the individual feel more relaxed and hopeful for the rest of the day.

Incorporate some rituals into daily life

Many studies have shown that engaging in repeatable behavior can help reduce anxiety before engaging in a stressful situation.

If you are beginning to experience signs of burnout syndrome, you should take a moment to step back and create some rituals.

This could be taking ten deep breaths before starting a new task or a 5-minute walk at the end of your lunch break.

Reinforce the effort, not the result

If the productivity drive is what gives rise to burnout, it can seem like an endless cycle; the more work you do and the more exhausted you feel, the more work the individual will feel they have to do.

To break this cycle, you need to change how you measure values.

Simple changes, such as saying “write for 2 hours today” instead of “blog today,” reduce the often unnecessary pressure and stress that the individual causes exhaustion.

Build self-awareness with regular check-ups

The hardest part of avoiding burnout syndrome is that you often don’t see it coming until too late.

Developing self-awareness through reflection and periodic reviews of life and work is essential.

Researchers have found that reflective practice makes what has been learned stick in mind and improves performance.

It also increases self-efficacy, a belief in your abilities, which can be a powerful impotence remedy for exhaustion.

Attempts should be made to schedule weekly, monthly, and even yearly reviews to take stock of the work that has been done, how the individual feels, and where they view their work and life.

How to come back from burnout syndrome

Exhaustion can completely change how you feel about life and make the previous existence seem like a nightmare.

But this is not a hopeless situation. Once these burnout symptoms are recognized, it is time to return to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

While there is no easy, all-encompassing answer when it comes to recovering from burnout, there are methods that have been shown to help us regain control over feelings and begin to find joy and meaning in the work we do.

Some methods are:

Prioritize personal care

Recovery begins when the individual prioritizes himself and his health overwork and the relationships that are draining him.

And while taking time to rest and relax will always be the ideal solution, some techniques can be tried during the workday:

Using focused breathing techniques

This help will calm and harness the parasympathetic nervous system and help reduce or manage stress.

Take frequent, short breaks from work.

Preferably 5-minute breaks for every 20 minutes spent at the desk or on a single task.

Use breaks to recharge, disconnect from work, and exercise to protect yourself from physical exhaustion.

Use ergonomic chairs and desks.

A good sitting or standing position helps relieve the physical stress of being in one place for too long.

Taking or spending more time on a hobby outside of work

This allows you to de-stress and disconnect from work, and you can do whatever you want, which will be especially beneficial if they involve any form of exercise.

However, building these healthy habits is no easy task. If you are having trouble making room in your schedule, take a week to assess precisely how you are spending your time using a simple document, pencil, and paper.

This little report will help you see where the stressors are on your schedule and help you know when it’s time to insert a more meaningful exercise or positive activity.


With fatigue close to the level of depression that comes with burnout syndrome, as much sleep and rest as possible are needed to achieve recovery.

Try to sleep well every day, eat well, and occupy your time with relaxing activities that people rarely allow themselves to enjoy, such as reading, cooking, and writing; if you do not want to do anything, do not do it, do not expose yourself to any stress during Two days and a half.

You may feel the need to extend your rest periods by using vacation days or consider making more drastic changes to your lifestyle to help de-stress more permanently.

Limit priorities

When you return from the born-out syndrome, it’s easy to slip back into bad work habits.

Make a shortlist of things to do. Of course, you can do more of this little list of items per day, but separating the “must do” from the rest of the “do (if you can)” helps you feel meaning and accomplishment every day.

General recommendations

  • Lack of time should not be used as an excuse for not practicing physical exercises and not enjoying moments of relaxation and leisure.
  • Lifestyle changes may be the best way to prevent or treat burnout syndrome.
  • You should be aware that using alcohol and other drugs to protect yourself from anxiety attacks and depression is not a good remedy to solve the problem.
  • Evaluate how much working conditions interfere with the quality of life and harm physical and mental health.
  • Also, evaluate the possibility of proposing new dynamics for daily activities and professional goals.
  • Find a support network of people you trust.
  • Create meaningful relationships with people outside of work.
  • Spend time with loved ones or old friends and rekindle that feeling of connection.

Burnout syndrome may feel insurmountable, but it is a sign of something that needs to be fixed, not a life sentence.

By understanding what causes burnout syndrome and how it manifests itself in daily life and discovering ways to prevent, counter, and recover from it, you can have a happier, healthier life at work and home.