Burnout Syndrome: What You Need to Know

Updated on May 18, 2020
Laila Hashem profile image

During my first year at university, I suffered from Burnout Syndrome. It was not recognized, then. When it was, I researched it endlessly.


What is Burnout Syndrome?

I am sure we've all had these days where we feel like doing nothing except stay at home, order take-out, and binge watch series or read books. It is perfectly normal to take a day or two for yourself away from the overwhelming demands of life. In fact, studies now show that vacation time or 'personal days' result in improved productivity, lower stress and better mental health.

But, what happens when these two days become a week or month, during which you are too emotionally and physically exhausted to follow up on your commitments, whether personal or professional?

As a freshman in university, I experienced a similar situation. It was intolerable to say the least. I would sit at my desk for hours on end not being able to focus or recall any topics from the curriculum. My sleep schedule was very off and I was constantly exhausted. It got to the point where I gave up on trying to study for tests, convinced that the information would seep through my brain in the state that I was in. I was right; by that point, there was nothing I could do, because, as I now know, I was suffering from Burnout Syndrome.

Recognized in May or 2019 as a psychological disorder, Burnout Syndrome is a type of 'human battery depletion' characterized by extreme mental and physical exhaustion for a prolonged period of time as a result of chronic stress. It's symptoms show themselves on a spectrum depending on how far the disorder has progressed.


So, what are the symptoms?

Effect on Areas:
Early Signs/Stages
Symptoms of Syndrome
Physical Symptoms
mild headaches
IBS, chest pains, decreased immune system
difficulty paying attention
impaired cognitive function
acute loss of enjoyment
depressive episodes
lack of energy
Chronic Fatigue
trouble falling sleep on some days
Chronic Insomnia
infrequent loss of appetite
weight loss
tension, worry, uneasiness
anxiety interferes with daily tasks
anger, outbursts
inability to finish projects
negative self-talk
trust issues
Social Life
resistance to socializing

Causes of Burnout Syndrome

Acknowledging and treating the above symptoms of the syndrome can spare someone a lot of mental and physical pain. But recognizing and avoiding the following causes before symptoms occur is also important.

  • chronic stress

  • self-sacrifice

  • feeling either permanently overworked or under-challenged, being under time pressure, or having conflicts with colleagues.

  • extreme commitment that results in people neglecting their own needs.

And, while many sources claim that the diagnosis is limited to work environments and shouldn't be applied to other situations, it has been proven that the syndrome can be caused by social, athletic, and academic demands as well.


After months of feeling guilty about my inability to function, I made a decision that was crucial to my recovery. I started eliminating stressors from my life and adding de-stressors, such as:

1) Positive and rewarding work:

  • excites and motivates you
  • is enjoyable
  • where you feel appreciated and valued by your boss and peers

2) Supportive individuals:

  • who stick by you at your time of need
  • who do not judge you
  • who are understanding of your mental state

3) Foods that have been shown to decrease stress, including:

  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • blueberries
  • turkey
  • almonds
  • yogurt
  • kale/arugula
  • salmon

It may seem daunting to do this at first. I even left my job for one that was less stressful and deadline-based. But, if I can do it, so can you! You may think that many aspects in your life are not under your control, but they are. You don't have control over your overly-nosy relatives, but you do have control over how often you see them. If you can't leave your job for financial reasons, you can choose to work on less projects. So, do it and put your mental health above everything else.

Is it a Stressor?

view quiz statistics


Frye, L. (2018, June 01). More People Are Taking Time Off, and That's Good for Business. Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/workers-taking-more-vacation-.aspx

Impaired cognitive performance in patients with chronic burnout syndrome. (2004, November 17). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051104001553?via=ihub

The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout ... Do You Have Them? (2013, November 11). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them

Depression: What is burnout? (2017, January 12). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279286/

Ekberg, J. Y., Griffith, N., & Foxall, M. J. (2006, December 22). Spouse burnout syndrome. Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2648.1986.tb01234.x

Oliva, E. F., Santos, Andrade, S., Santos, Abreu, A. T., Melo, . . . De, T. M. (n.d.). Burnout Syndrome and associated factors among medical students: A cross-sectional study. Retrieved June 13, 2019, from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1807-59322012000600005&script=sci_arttext

Handbook of Sport Psychology - Handbook of Sport Psychology. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/9781118270011#page=630

Negativity Is Contagious, Study Finds. (2007, October 07). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071004135757.htm

Beat Anxiety: 8 Foods that Help with Anxiety and Stress. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://www.psycom.net/foods-that-help-with-anxiety-and-stress/

Jideonwo, P. (2014, March 10). These Foods Make Your Stress & Anxiety WORSE. Retrieved June 13, 2019, from https://blackdoctor.org/431040/foods-that-cause-stress/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Laila Hashem


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • TurtleDog profile image


      11 months ago

      I think we all get this from time to time but,as your article puts so well, it can become a major problem. Probably I struggle the most with finding something exciting, as my de-stressor.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      11 months ago from Long Island, NY

      I was wondering if I might have Burnout Syndrome since I sometimes feel overwhelmed. But that’s just because I have so many things on my agenda that I try to get done.

      Based on your table of symptoms I see that I definitely don’t have it, which is good. But even though I don’t have burnout, your list of stress reduces is welcome information that I plan to use. Thanks for such as detailed and researched article.

    • Laila Hashem profile imageAUTHOR

      Laila Hashem 

      13 months ago from United Arab Emirates

      Glad you liked it!

    • Gurpinder Vir Singh Rai profile image


      13 months ago

      Thank you for writing this wonderful article. I like how you have discussed the symptoms in depth and how things can be improved.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, youmemindbody.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)