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Symptoms and Causes of Burnout

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

More simply put, if you feel exhausted, start to hate your job, and begin to feel less capable at work, you are showing signs of burnout. The stress that contributes to burnout can come mainly from your job, but stress from your overall lifestyle can add to this stress. Personality traits and thought patterns, such as perfectionism and pessimism, can contribute as well. Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working. And if you hate your job, dread going to work, and don't gain any satisfaction out of what you're doing, it can take a serious toll on your life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists burnout as an ‘occupational phenomenon‘ in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Though it is not considered a medical condition, WHO notes that it can influence your health, and cause you to reach out to health services. While burnout includes many of the same symptoms as stress, there are three specific feelings that differentiate burnout. Feeling tired or exhausted, lack of enthusiasm and increased negativity towards your job, and decreased ability to perform your job. Often, burnout results in depressive symptoms, such as sadness or a lack of hope, said Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D., a practicing therapist and Director of Clinical Effectiveness for Talkspace. But it can also contribute to a wide range of negative emotions and even physical symptoms, such as frustration or anger, irritability or annoyance, anxiety, agitation, or restlessness, and physical feelings of stress, such as headaches, stomach issues, body pains, or fatigue.

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