Signs, Symptoms, Causes — Talkspace

Signs and Symptoms 

Burnout symptoms can cause exhaustion and anxiety. You may start feeling or acting more irritable, short-tempered, or downright angry. Physical symptoms are common as well. You might have gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and others may notice and comment on changes in your behavior. 

One of the more prominent symptoms of burnout is emotional, cognitive, and physical fatigue. This kind of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion can cause an inability to work effectively. It’s not surprising that so many people feel exhausted by the demands of today’s culture, which involves constant access to email, news, and pressure to respond immediately. It’s almost as if we’re all on 24 hours a day. 

Feeling like you have a never-ending to-do list or impossible-to-meet deadlines can lead to feeling totally drained and hopeless. Thus, the spiral begins, and as burnout worsens, even minor tasks can start to seem arduous, increasing feelings of incapability, helplessness, and stress. 

The following signs and symptoms can help you catch burnout before it worsens, so you can stop the vicious cycle. 

Fatigue/drained

As already noted, being drained of energy or fatigued past the point of normal tiredness or just feeling like you have nothing left to give, can be a tell-tale sign that burnout is at play. 

Reduced performance

Burnout can affect everyday tasks at work or home. People with burnout may become pessimistic about their responsibilities, lose their creativity and drive, and find it hard to concentrate. 

When you aren’t optimistic about what you have to do, you’re more likely not to function well, resulting in subpar or decreased performance. 

Irritable or impatient

Burnout might be the culprit if you suddenly become irritable with your co-workers, customers, clients, or others. It can also lead to outright anger. In general, anger’s rarely a productive way to deal with others.  

Headaches 

Frequent headaches have long been cited as a physical manifestation of burnout. However, symptoms of burnout can include other physical manifestations including nausea and stomach aches. If headaches or other physical symptoms interfere with your daily life, it might be time to see a doctor. 

Changed sleeping/eating habits

Chronic stress can affect both appetite and the ability to sleep. Sleep and diet are critical parts of your energy levels, so you may be slipping into a state that feels impossible to get out of when they’re negatively affected. 

Eating more (or less) than usual or sleeping more (or less) due to stress and anxiety over your job and duties might mean you’re at risk of burnout. 

“Silence or avoidance can also be signs of burnout. If you or someone you know is more quiet than usual, absent, or procrastinating, burnout may be the cause.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S, LCSWC

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