Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental tiredness caused by long-term stress that leave you exhausted, disillusioned about things like work or relationships and feeling like you're not getting anything done. Burnout is difficult to recognise because it is a long and complicated process. As a result, it's easy to think you are exhausted from working long hours or overwhelmed with unresolved events.

Burnout is far more serious than a hard day, week, or month. ​Burnout is not just work related either, as students, athletes and carers can also suffer from burnout.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a condition that does not go away on its own. It may intensify unless you address the underlying issues that are causing it. If you ignore the signs of burnout, it could have long-term consequences for your physical and emotional health for example, heart disease, auto-immune disorder and depression. You may also lose the capacity and energy to efficiently meet the demands in certain areas of your life, including work.

What is the difference between stress & burnout?

There's more to burnout than just stress. While short episodes of stress can be motivating for some people, long-term stress can be harmful to your health and wellbeing, leading to burnout if it is not addressed.

Burnout and stress reinforce each other. Burnout has a considerably bigger impact on stress than stress has on burnout.

With stress, there is an end in sight, but getting there may be challenging. Burnout, on the other hand, is a cycle of negative emotions and withdrawal that occurs when you devote too much emotionally, intellectually, or physically in something without an opportunity to recover.

Consider burnout to be the older, meaner version of stress because you can be stressed without becoming burned out. So, how do you tell the two apart? Here are a few warning signals to look out for:

  • Over commitment (stress); withdrawal (burnout)
  • Reactive or over reactive emotions (stress); blunted or distant emotions (burnout)
  • Hyperactivity and a sense of urgency (stress); feeling helpless (burnout)
  • Depleted or no energy (stress); depleted or no motivation (burnout)
  • Results in anxiety (stress); results in depression (burnout)
  • Physically demanding (stress); emotionally demanding (burnout)

Symptoms and diagnosis

Burnout is a long, drawn out process that develops over time and is characterised by a wide range of symptoms and issues, particularly anxiety and depression. The good news is that burnout isn't inevitable, but it's critical to treat it at an early stage.

Determining what causes burnout, as well as where you are in the burnout cycle, if you have stress or burnout, and whether career issues are exacerbating the problem, can be difficult. Each person's unique contributions to burnout must be recognised.

  • Mental and physical fatigue and exhaustion that cannot be remedied by normal recovery processes like a long weekend, or a vacation is the most important burnout symptom
  • Disillusionment/loss of meaning
  • Moodiness, impatience, and being short-tempered
  • Loss of motivation and a reduced interest in commitments
  • Inability to meet obligations
  • Lowered immunity to illness
  • Emotional detachment from previous involvements
  • Feeling efforts are unappreciated
  • Withdrawal from people and social situations
  • Hopelessness, and a helpless and depressed outlook
  • Job absenteeism and inefficiency
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Foggy thinking and trouble concentrating

Burnout recovery can be a difficult process. It is critical to get professional care if you are suffering from burnout, as the major symptoms encourage increased isolation and withdrawal, potentially leading to despair. Our specialists at Schoen Clinic specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of burnout.

Stages of burnout and when to seek help

Honeymoon phase

When you're in this phase, you're enthralled with an aspect of your life, for example, your job and you have a lot of energy, and are positive about your prospects.

Stress onset

You won't be as enthusiastic about your life situation as you once were. Some days will be enjoyable, but the difficult days will begin to wear you down. You may begin to have bad emotions that last a long time. You should think about stress management measures at this stage.

Chronic stress

When you walk arrive for work or social gathering, you're likely to feel worried. Physical illness and a sensation of terror are possible side effects. To deal with your work-related stress, you should seek help right away.


This is the final stage of burnout. You're past burnout. You may feel depressed and vulnerable. Many people also struggle to complete their employment responsibilities.

Habitual burnout

You're completely exhausted at this point. You might be thinking about quitting your job, getting divorced or selling your home and your general demeanour has changed. Intervention is crucial at this point.

Support for burnout

Recovery from burnout is attainable. While there’s no quick fix for burnout, recovery can be quicker with the help of a healthcare professional.

Smartphone apps that can help you keep track of your symptoms and mental well-being, such as MindDoc are available.