Burnout: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery

Burnout is a syndrome of work-related fatigue. Very common, it is characterized by a state of intense fatigue and demotivation, followed by chronic stress. What are the symptoms of burnout, and how can it be treated?

Burnout: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery
Burnout: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery

Definition: What is Burnout?

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Burnout, or burnout syndrome, is a state of intense mental or physical fatigue that is linked to work. It is most often the result of months or years of overwork and stress, resulting in a lack of motivation and results.

Burnout can affect any category of worker, from entrepreneurs to CEOs. Around 7% of employees are affected by burnout. One in four report experiencing high levels of chronic stress in the workplace.

Symptoms: How to Recognize Burnout?

Burnout does not appear overnight. It is a state that progresses in time. A fatigue sets in little by little and does not leave after periods of rest and relaxation. As a result, doing your job on a daily basis requires a lot more energy and effort, without achieving the same results. The result is a sense of frustration and a cynical attitude.

The affected individual then experiences feelings of failure and incompetence. This decrease in confidence generates a constant sense of demotivation, as well as difficulties concentrating and making decisions. In severe cases, suicidal thoughts may occur.

People with burnout can also experience physical symptoms. In addition to chronic exhaustion, they may experience migraines, headaches, muscle aches, tachycardia, insomnia, lack of appetite accompanied by weight loss, digestive problems, and a greater predisposition to diseases and infections (influenza, otitis, sinusitis).

Causes of Burnout

The occurrence of burnout can be explained by working daily in a company that is a source of chronic tension. This can be due to a heavy workload, intense pressure placed on time or results, lack of recognition (no suitable reward or an insufficient salary), lack of control over decisions or positions, fear of losing one's job, demanding relationships with customers, low social standing, and poor communication between colleagues or within the hierarchy.

Life outside of the work world can also play a role. A single person or, conversely, one with lots of familial responsibilities, are more likely to suffer a burnout. However, while the trigger is individual to the sufferer, burnout usually occurs in a stressful environment shared by many, between both employees and employers.

Treatment for Burnout

The treatment of burnout (or prevention) aims to eliminate, or at the very least reduce, chronic stress. This happens first by stopping work, and having a period of rest whose length varies depending on the case. But this is not enough. It's important to follow this rest period with a psychologist, in order to identify the sources of stress and treat them effectively. Among the various possible therapies, cognitive-behavioural therapy is most often used, both in groups and individually.

Antidepressants or antiesolitics may be prescribed by the doctor, but should be consumed only for a short amount of time.

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