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▼ BROWSE ISSUES ▼
Issue 45

Burn Out

Mihai Câsu
Director Medical, medic primar Pediatrie @Polaris Medical
PROGRAMMING

People spend nearly one-third of their adult lives at work, which causes workplace issues that affects professional and personal life. Targets pressure, unmanageable deadlines, mental tensions that arise in the relationships with other people, also emotional problems can cause a generalized state of mental deterioration.

Burnout is one of the greatest obstacles to growth for the highly competitive people with extraordinary achievements and its awareness should be taken into account throughout their life. Unfortunately, right because of the outstanding ability to carry out all tasks, they don't even realise when they get caught in this trap. Passionate about what they do, they tend to ignore the fact that they work excessive hours, taking on too many tasks, so the pressure to succeed it's also increasing by the day. All these factors become a common source of stress, which eventually leads to burnout.

Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment, cynicism and detachment. When in the throes of fully developed burnout, one is no longer able to function effectively on a social or professional level. However, burnout doesn't happen suddenly. People don't just wake up one morning and all of a sudden "have burnout.", but its nature is much more insidious, creeping up on people over time like a slow leak, which makes it harder to be recognized. Still, our bodies and minds do give us warnings, and if you know what to look for, you can recognize it before it's too late.

What are the signs we should pay attention to?

Each of the signs described above are accompanied by certain symptoms, although there is overlap in some areas. These signs and symptoms appear and are slowly developing along a continuum, making it difficult to sense the difference between stress and burnout, which is a matter of degree. This means that the earlier we recognize the signs, the better able we will be to avoid burnout.

Chronic fatigue

 In the early stages, people may experience a lack of energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, the physical and emotional exhaustion occurs, one feels drained, and depleted with a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.

Insomnia

In the early stages, people may have trouble falling asleep, happening more likely on one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly ordeal; yet, as exhausted as one may feel, won't be able to shut eye at night.

Forgetfulness. Impaired concentration and attention

Lack of focus and mild forgetfulness can lead to incapacity of getting work done, so the unsolved work tasks will begin to pile up.

Physical symptoms

It may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, headaches or even fainting.

Weakened Immune System 

Because the body is depleted, one's immune system becomes weakened, leading to a higher vulnerability to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.

Loss of appetite

In the early stages, people may not feel hungry, also may skip a few meals, followed by the loss of appetite in the latter stages. As a consequence, people will begin to lose a significant amount of weight.

Anxiety

The first signs might be associated with mild symptoms of tension, worry, and edginess. As you move closer to burnout, the anxiety may become so serious and threatening, that it interferes with your ability to work productively and may cause problems in your personal life as well. (relationship problems - lack of empathy and interest in the partner, lack of patience, alienation).

Depression

In the early stages, you may feel mildly sad, occasionally hopeless, and you may experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped with no way out, becoming severely depressed, also expressing thoughts of death. In this type of situations, you should seek professional help immediately.

Anger 

At first, anger manifests as an interpersonal problem, expressed by irritability, low frustration tolerance, factors which were once considered minor. In the latter stages, these frustrations may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at the workplace as well as at home, towards family. This thoughts or acts of violence manifested regularly need serious attention and immediately seek professional assistance.

Indifference, affective detachment and cynicism

This sign can manifest under many other symptoms. At first, people may manifest a mild loss of enjoyment, they won't feel like going to work anymore, but feeling eager to leave once they've arrived. With no intervention, in time, this loss of enjoyment may extend and affect all areas of one's life, including the time spent with the family or friends

Pessimism

At first, pessimism may be considered just a personality trait, presenting itself through negative self-talk or the attitude of seeing the half-empty more than the half-full glass. This time, unfortunately, it's not just a temporary attitude, but it may move beyond how you feel about yourself and extend to trust issues with coworkers and family members. Team work slowly becomes impossible.

Social Isolation Tendency

A mild resistance to socializing (i.e., not wanting to go out for dinner with friends) may turn into aggressive verbal reactions as a response to one speaking to you, also the need to avoid interactions as much as possible.

Emotional Detachment 

Detachment is a complex phenomenon which may be difficult to recognise when experienced. It is a general sense of gradually feeling disconnected from the environment or from other people. It can take the form of social isolation, starting to avoid all sort of responsibilities and tasks, if that thing is possible. People may also call in sick often, avoid deadlines, removing themselves not only emotionally but also physically from their job.

Lack of Accomplishment and Ineffectiveness

At first, it might appear a feeling of hopelessness, presented as a general sense that everything goes wrong or nothing matters. Later you can identify feelings of apathy, lack of initiative and will with no interest in initiating new things in your personal and professional life.

Lack of productivity and poor performance

Probably the most difficult part of this syndrome for a "performer" is seeing how day by day he becomes weaker and weaker and experiences a professional setback.  Despite the considerable effort and the long hours of work, chronic stress prevents us from being as productive as we once were. This often results in incomplete tasks, which lead to incomplete projects followed by no results.

If you're not experiencing any of the problems mentioned above, that's great! However, you should keep these warning signs in mind so that you may detect them while they are untenable.

If you have already experienced some of these symptoms, this should be a wake-up call that you may consider getting treatment immediately. Try making some serious change, evaluate your priorities, the work volume and the amount of stress that you undertake.

Try to evaluate yourself using this test by accessing this link below: http://www.polarismedical.ro/terapia-pentru-burnout-online, and if you see it necessary, seek professional assistance imidiately.

Burnout isn't like an innocent flu; it doesn't go away after a few weeks unless we put in some great effort to get back in the race again.

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