Just like any mental illness, burnout has certain symptoms of burnout which can be used to recognize the illness. While it is often not recognized, it is useful to look at the symptoms of burnout early on to prevent them from getting any worse. You can check yourself which of he following symptoms of burnout might be applicable to you.
We have divided up the symptoms of burnout into 3 types of symptoms of burnout: the physical symptoms of burnout, the psychological symptoms of burnout, and the behavioral symptoms of burnout.
Physical symptoms of burnout
An important indicator of burnout is that you are fatigued. You are exhausted, fatigued, and have the feeling that you have less and less energy. After pushing your brain all day long, both your body and mind become fatigued, meaning you have no energy left. The fatigue adds up, because you keep pushing day after day. You keep exerting yourself at a level that is above the level which you can manage, leading to you becoming more and more fatigued.
In this, we can see an important difference when it comes to depression. In depression you namely already feel fatigued when you wake up, while your burnout makes it so that you become fatigued after a period of working too hard.
Sleeplessness, too, is one of the symptoms of burnout. Because you are worrying about what it is that you have left to do, or what you can do to make the situation more pleasant, you find it more difficult to fall asleep or you might even wake up several times throughout the night. This way you feel even more fatigued, creating a vicious cycle of stress and fatigue.
Even physical aches make up a part of the symptoms of burnout. Chances are that the tension and stress are felt in your body after a while. You might suffer headaches, back aches, and/or muscular aches. Because of the stress, your muscles are constantly tense, meaning your body does no longer experience any rest. This tension can result in pain after a while.
Digestive issues and poor appetite
Your appetite can also be affected by burnout. It can be so that you start to eat less or that you notice that you lose weight because of the stress which you experience. Furthermore, you might experience stomach and bowel complaints due to the stress. Stress can namely have a large effect on our digestive process.
More vulnerable to diseases
The stress which you experience caused by burnout symptoms can make it so that you become more vulnerable to diseases. Stress can namely affect your immune system, meaning you become ill more quickly and more severely. If you are vulnerable for certain illnesses or allergies from the start, it can be so that the stress increases your chances of experiencing these illnesses even further.
Experiencing specific stress symptoms
Because burnout symptoms are based on stress symptoms, chances are that you often experience general stress symptoms. These include symptoms like heart palpitations, increased cholesterol levels, and a heightened blood pressure. This is not good for your health and can increase your vulnerability, too.
Psychological symptoms of burnout
Exhaustion and a burnt out feeling
Months of overly exerting your body and mind has the consequence that our brain literally becomes exhausted and tired, in dire need of proper recovery. In case one does not take care of this, burnout can lead to the chronic fatigue syndrome, also called CFS. Possible issues with sleeping can increase your exhaustion, meaning you end up in a type of vicious cycle of exhaustion.
Issues with focusing
Burnout often leads to issues focusing. You find it difficult to focus. These concentration issues often become worse as the day goes on. Long-term stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, being excreted into the blood by the adrenocorticals. This overdose of stress hormone is poisonous to the hippocampus. This process can cause symptoms of burnout, because the hippocampus is responsible for the ability to focus and memory. Because of the sudden increase in cortisol levels, neurons in this part of the brain become exhausted and die because of this long-term stress. This has concentration issues as a consequence.
People with symptoms of burnout often complain that their memory no longer works. They find it difficult to remember things. Often, these complaints worsen when they are tired, at the end of a day at work or after a long task. Often, you notice that the memory is also affected when you have to switch between several tasks. You then do not remember what you had learned and remembered right before.
The reason behind this memory disorder is probably because the working memory has been over-used for months or years. This can be caused by excess working or excess worrying. Both processes make use of the same working memory.
Our working memory in our brain is an organ just like any other organ. It can become overworked and need rest. That is why it is so useful to follow treatment which actively deals with the symptoms of burnout, in order to once again build up peacefulness in your life.
Often, symptoms of burnout have the consequence that you start to doubt yourself or that you break yourself down. You namely can no longer do that which you used to be able to do and the stress makes it so that you make more mistakes than you used to. Combined with blaming oneself for any failure, this is something which you can take very personally, which of course is not good for your self-esteem.
Constant atmosphere of irritation
You will notice that you find it very difficult to take a break from your thoughts when you experience symptoms of burnout. If something has caused you stress, you find it difficult to calm back down again. You are often irritable and agitated. If someone asks you something you will answer in an impolite way, because you feel like you cannot take anything else in.
Depressed and anxiety symptoms
Except for the typical symptoms of burnout, it can also be so that you feel depressed or anxious. For example, people with symptoms of burnout often start to worry a lot about how they can get out of their situation or how they can work even harder. Furthermore, this behavior will often have crying fits as a consequence, because you have reached your limits. Because of your low self-esteem and the constant feeling of not being good enough, it can be so that you start to feel anxious.
Behavioral symptoms of burnout
Performing less well and making more mistakes
Because you worry more and are more fatigued, chances of making mistakes also increase. Here, too, we notice a vicious cycle of symptoms of burnout. Making mistakes make it so that you experience lowered self-esteem, leading to experiencing more stress. This stress in turn can cause you to make more mistakes.
Dependency on substances
If you experience symptoms of burnout, it can be so that you make use of certain substances to get rid of the stress or exhaustion. For example, we often see that people with symptoms of burnout start to smoke more frequently and eventually take sleeping pills. More extreme types of substance abuse are also possible.
Avoiding social contact
Except for isolation in case of depression, isolation also is a possibility when it comes to symptoms of burnout. Because you are unsure as of how to deal with your symptoms of burnout and your stress, it can be so that you no longer want to meet up with people or to do things together with other people. This isolation or reduction in contact can also lead to eventual symptoms of depression.