The Burnout Syndrome

Exhaustion determines your everyday life? Here you will learn about the symptoms of burnout and how you can prevent this disease

3 min read
The Burnout Syndrome

Each of us has probably experienced the following situation: A stressful and busy week comes to an end and we feel completely exhausted and powerless. Our energy reserves have been used up and we only look forward to being able to sleep in and unwind. Finally two days off that we can use to recharge our batteries.

But what if this feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy is still there after weeks? Then these could be signs of the so-called burnout syndrome.


The word "burnout" comes from English and means something like "to be burned out". The burnout syndrome was first named by the German-American psychologist Herbert J. Freudenberger, who published a scientific article about it in 1974.

Burnout is now a recognized disease. It describes an enormous form of exhaustion on a mental, emotional and physical level.


The trigger for the disease consists of two aspects:

  • Personality (Inner Cause)
    • low self esteem
    • too much ambition
    • Trouble saying "no".
    • fear of job loss
    • perfectionism (unachievable goals)
    • need to live up to the expectations of others
  • External Circumstances (External Cause)
    • open disputes with colleagues and/or superiors
    • lack of social support
    • lack of appreciation (professional and/or private)
    • bureaucratic obstacles
    • stress at work (overload)
    • stress in the private sphere
    • death of loved ones (deep grief causes a "feeling of powerlessness")
    • too many problems in the private and professional environment


Deep exhaustion is the main feature of burnout. There are also other symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • listlessness
  • restlessness
  • sleep disorders
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty concentrating
  • memory problems
  • indifference
  • lack of energy
  • despair
  • isolation
  • psychosomatic complaints such as
    • headache
    • back pain
    • body aches
    • sexual displeasure
    • nightmares
    • stomach and bowel problems
    • high blood pressure
    • tightness in the chest
    • iIncreased consumption of addictive substances (nicotine, alcohol, drugs)
    • severe weight loss or gain

The symptoms are very varied and can express themselves differently in their occurrence and in their severity for each person suffering from burnout.

Burnout Clock

Burnout can be treated early if everyone pays attention to the stress level of their fellow human beings and themselves. The twelve stations of the burnout clock help to react to symptoms in good time.

  1. forced to prove themselves

    • Ambition and perfectionism exceed an affordable workload
  2. increased use

    • Need to do all the work yourself
  3. neglecting their own needs

    • Stress and overwork are perceived as normal
  4. repression of conflicts and needs

    • A lack of awareness of disputes and minor mistakes in the routine work process are increasing
  5. reinterpretation of values

    • People and values ​​that are important privately are neglected
  6. denial of problems

    • Atmosphere is characterized by aggressiveness and cynicism, performance decrease and physical complaints intensify
  7. retreat

    • Criticism decreases, family and friends are perceived as annoying
  8. behavior changes

    • Apathy, impatience, resilience decreases
  9. depersonalization

    • Loss of "self", neglect of health and well-being
  10. inner emptiness

    • Feelings of discouragement and uselessness, development of phobias and panic attacks possible
  11. depression

    • Feelings of deep despair and self-loathing, risk of suicidal thoughts
  12. complete exhaustion

    • physical, mental and emotional breakdown


The earlier burnout is detected, the greater the chances of recovery. The therapy consists of different elements. The most important thing is psychotherapeutic treatment. Medication (antidepressants) prescribed by a specialist can also help. Group and sports therapy can also be helpful. Conversations with like-minded people, for example in a self-help group, also increase the chances of recovery.

The admission is decisive for a therapy. Without realizing that you are suffering from burnout, any therapy will fail and the risk of falling into depression is high.


Burnout is a gradual process. Most of the time it is recognized far too late.

Various methods can help to prevent this:

  • plan and adhere to fixed rest periods
  • maintain social contacts
  • integrate regular exercise into everyday life
  • talking to friends/family about current problems and fears
  • keep a stress diary
  • stress management
  • relaxation techniques (yoga / autogenic training)
  • clearly define life goals
  • give permission to make mistakes
  • self-acceptance
  • strengthening of self-esteem

It is important for our mental and physical well-being that we pay attention to our needs and to the signals our body gives us. With all the stress of work and everyday life, we should be careful to allow ourselves enough rest in between.

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