The working wounded: Symptoms of burnout

It's an all-too common experience - the feeling of dread when your alarm goes off on a Monday morning. Despite a lazy weekend, you're still exhausted, and can barely face the thought of getting up and going to work.

A recent article published by the Harvard Business Review stated that “more and more people are feeling tired and lonely at work”. In fact, almost half of people surveyed in a General Social Survey in the US in 2016 described themselves as “often or always exhausted” – an increase of 32% compared to two decades ago.

The article goes on to describe how strong the correlation is between exhaustion and loneliness – which is not due to isolation, but due to deep and terrible fatigue caused by a lengthy period of "workplace burnout".

We all know that fatigue results from prolonged stress. Our nervous systems were not designed to be in a state of high alert for long periods of time - eventually they wear down and become dysregulated. This state is the precursor to burnout, which ultimately leads to the risk of mental illness, says Akeso Clinics.

But what are the symptoms of burnout? Psychology Today lists the following as tell-tale signs of burnout:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness and impaired concentration
  • Physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, stomach pain, fainting and / or headaches
  • Increased illness and lowered immune system
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Increased irritability or anger
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Pessimism
  • Isolation
  • Detachment
  • Feelings of apathy and hopelessness
  • Lack of productivity and poor work performance

Workplace burnout is typically caused by work stress, which arises from a variety of sources - excessive workloads with unrealistic deadlines, boredom and under-utilised skills, a lack of control over work activities, lack of support, poor relationships, worry about job security, bullying, a culture of shame and blame, ineffective management, multiple reporting lines, lack of information about change, and a poor physical work environment.

The latest research is showing us how compassion, empathy, kindness and social connectedness help to reduce burnout, increase job satisfaction and productivity. The most important factor in work happiness is positive relationships with co-workers.

But what happens when this cannot be achieved? When weeks and months go by and stress leads to exhaustion, then burnout, then illness?

It is important to seek the proper professional help and support when suffering from any sort of mental illness.

One option is to seek in-patient treatment at a facility such as Akeso Clinics, which specialises in behavioural health care, assisting patients to recover from the suffering associated with a variety of mental health problems, and rebuilding their lives in conscious, courageous and creative ways to discover purpose and meaning once more.

At Akeso Clinics each patient is cared for by a multidisciplinary team of professionals – including doctors, nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and addiction counsellors. Patients are managed medically, and are also exposed to an intense psychosocial therapeutic programme to help them recover.

For more information, visit www.akeso.co.za, or contact their intervention team at info@akeso.co.za or 0861 435 787


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