Difference between stress and burnout? How can we differentiate between the two problems? Because everyone suffers from stress sometimes, but when it is a burnout, it is more problematic. Therefore it is useful to recognize a burnout in time in order to treat the burnout symptoms as soon as possible.

When does stress become a burnout?

Except for depression, stress is also very similar to burnout. It is difficult to know where normal stress stops and where a burnout begins. To describe the difference between stress and burnout more clearly, we see the two problems as follows:
Stress => more stress => a lot of stress => too much stress => burnout

In the figure you can see that stress is sort of the starting phase of burnout - the small, innocent little brother. If stress adds up, it can lead to burnout after sometime. A burnout does therefore not develop without stress, but the other way around it is possible for stress to form without ending up being a burnout.

Stress is therefore not a disorder in itself, while burnout is. It is even hardly possible to have an existence completely without stress. Everyone experiences stress sometimes. Burnout, however, is a disorder. Burnout can namely make it so that you are not longer the person who you want to be, or who you used to be.

Stress and burnout: the vicious cycle

There therefore is a clear difference between stress and burnout. Furthermore, these two issues make it so that you end up in a vicious cycle. Stress adds up, you notice that things do no longer go as easily as they used to. After a while you experience focus problems and/or memory problems, which make it so that you experience more stress. It is not normal to already have issues, you believe. Burnout symptoms start to manifest. You become stressed, because you want to work against these symptoms. Stress thus also comes from experiencing burnout symptoms, which lead to more stress, which in turn cause you to experience more burnout symptoms.

Is stress the only cause of burnout?

Stress is not the only cause of burnout. Because burnout is a disorder, there are several factors which work together in order to cause a burnout to develop. We therefore classify burnout as a broader and more severe variety of stress, which definitely can cause damage when left untreated.

Difference between stress and burnout: comparison of the symptoms

It is therefore useful to remember that stress is not a disorder, but that burnout is. That is why burnout will have more severe consequences and symptoms than stress. below, we sum up certain characteristics which you experience in stress and burnout:

Stress Burnout
You put too much effort in things Little or no input
You experience emotions more strongly You experience emotions flattening out
Causes hyperactivity Causes a helpless feeling
You have less energy You have less motivation and hope
Can lead to anxiety Can lead to depression
Physical consequences Emotional consequences
Higher chances of early death Higher chances of hopelessness