Burnout Syndrome Definition and Meaning

The burnout syndrome refers to a mental illness that is relatively new in the consciousness of the medicine. Burnout, as the English already states, is considered to be burned out or a chronic state of exhaustion.

What is Burnout Syndrome?

The burnout syndrome describes the mental burnout or chronic overexertion and overload, whereby the affected patient loses all interest in work and private life and the performance has almost completely disappeared. It is a matter of a waning initially high level of motivation and interest in the job, which is brought about by many disappointments or false expectations. The disease is divided into phases and in the worst case scenario can result in the patient’s suicide if not properly treated.

According to abbreviationfinder.org, burnout syndrome usually arises from prolonged occupational stress, overwork and overwork. But wrongly set expectations of life and work, as well as other personal psychological problems can lead to burnout. Since the disease often leads to suicidal thoughts, a doctor should be consulted in good time in order to treat the disease as early as possible.


It used to be assumed that burnout syndrome could only affect occupational groups that need a high level of motivation and are exposed to many disappointments or situations that they have nothing to counteract. However, helping professions such as doctors, nurses or life coaches fall ill just like everyone else.

The cause of the burnout syndrome is that the patient approaches his job with an extremely high level of motivation and forgets how to correctly cope with disappointments. Teachers in particular are often affected by burnout, as their expectations from their studies often collide with the reality in schools.

Over time, however, the pressure of these disappointments increases over the patient’s head and he loses motivation in the job because his individual processing mechanisms have failed or do not exist. However, burnout syndrome also affects certain patients more than others. People with a known helper syndrome, ADHD or neuroticism belong to the risk group and are more likely to fall ill than other people in a challenging job or a difficult life situation.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

Only the physical symptoms of burnout are listed below. These can occur in very different forms and intensities. In addition to the physical symptoms, the psychological complaints are also of essential importance for recognizing a burnout syndrome. Above all, these include low self-confidence, general dissatisfaction at work, constant feeling of stress and sadness. Furthermore, the people affected also suffer from listlessness and lose their zest for life.

Burnout syndrome consists of a multitude of symptoms that do not always have to occur at the same time. Rather, it is a combination of various complaints that affect those affected and that worsen as the disease progresses.

At the beginning there are, for example, perceived and actual excessive demands in the face of upcoming tasks. This results in physical exhaustion and emotional stress. Nevertheless, the person concerned puts pressure on himself to perform in order to satisfy the environment. However, performance is not seen as sufficient, whereby in the course of burnout the person concerned is often assumed that it is due to him. Reward mechanisms and the recognition of achievement are no longer perceived as sufficient. Self-esteem can suffer and depression can result.

The constant exhaustion ultimately leads to a lack of drive and an unwillingness to tackle challenges. This feeling also influences everyday life, so that those affected neglect their own needs. In some cases the social is neglected.

Sleep problems and stress promote physical symptoms, including digestive disorders and pain. Nevertheless, the ability to take breaks for oneself fails because it is assumed that one’s own performance is simply insufficient. All symptoms intensify and the state of mind steadily deteriorates.

In the end, despair is the self-abandonment. A severe burnout syndrome sometimes ends with suicidal tendencies. Signs are constant stress combined with self-imposed pressure to perform. Despite their suffering, those affected simply carry on to prove something to themselves and those around them. The ability to recognize one’s own limits is lost.


Symptomatic of the burnout syndrome is initially an excessive motivation, paired with the inability to recognize and understand defeats as such. It is already the first warning signal when the patient sacrifices himself for the job. At the beginning of the illness he feels irreplaceable, makes almost perfectionist demands on himself and on everyone else. The patient frightens his colleagues with this apparently perfectionist behavior. Furthermore, he is convinced to live up to his ideals.

Over time, however, performance decreases and motivation dwindles, people only work dully without seeking social contact with colleagues. Rather, finger pointing is observed, which is a final emotional response from the patient. In the further course of the burnout syndrome, the family and the circle of friends are also neglected, the patient withdraws and develops doubts about his previous life and his place in it. Ultimately, the burnout syndrome reaches a point at which the patient becomes unable to work and, in the worst case, can even be suicidal.


Many different complications can arise in burnout syndrome, depending on the psychological and physical condition of the person concerned. There are also differences between males and females. As a rule, complications arise in the case of burnout syndrome, which lead to severe exhaustion of the person. This exhaustion can be so severe that it can result in incapacity for work.

In the worst case, the burnout syndrome leads to suicide, which, however, occurs relatively rarely. In most cases, the patient feels very exhausted and tense. This tension is not only to be interpreted physically, but also mentally. Patients are also powerless, tired, weak, and tense. A lack of drive was also a common symptom of burnout.

Without treatment, the symptoms worsen, so that later there is indifference to other people and successes. A cynical attitude is also common. As a rule, the experiences of failure intensify the symptoms of burnout. Treatment usually takes place on a psychological level and should always be carried out by a psychologist.

However, the burnout syndrome also weakens the physical properties of the body, which is why sporting activities are also part of the therapy. In most cases, therapy with a psychologist is successful and leads to the fight against burnout syndrome. However, the success depends heavily on the will of the person concerned.

When should you go to the doctor?

Upsetness, feelings of displeasure or exhaustion from exertion are normal even in healthy people. The question of whether and when to see a doctor depends on the duration and severity of the symptoms. A doctor should be consulted at the latest when the daily commute to work seems unbearable for at least two weeks and one is no longer able to switch off and relax.

In this state you are very close to collapse. A change in everyday life should urgently be initiated. The family doctor can be visited for an initial discussion. If this seems to focus too much on physical causes, a specialist should be consulted.

The family doctor can also refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist if you wish. The psychologist can then help out of the crisis as part of psychotherapy. The psychiatrist, in turn, prescribes drugs that have a supportive effect and help against stress, related sleep disorders and possibly against depression.

Treatment & Therapy

First of all, precise knowledge of the causes of the burnout syndrome is important for treatment. Some patients develop it purely because of their work, while others have a different psychological condition that has contributed to the disease. The burnout syndrome in the early stages improves in some cases spontaneously with a minimal change. A change of boss, a new job or a compensation for the stressful situation can ensure that the burnout syndrome regresses.

In the advanced stages, however, the patient needs professional help. The treatment of burnout syndrome consists first of all in removing the patient from the stressful situation and allowing him or her a break, which usually takes place in a specialized clinic. Meanwhile, his individual problems that led to the burnout syndrome are analyzed. After discharge from the clinic, he receives further psychotherapy, is monitored by the treating psychologist and receives targeted coaching.

Outlook & forecast

The burnout syndrome has recently come to the fore like hardly any other mental illness, because more and more people are suffering from it and it is now often recognized in good time. This is important in order to influence the prognosis, because a burnout syndrome that is recognized and treated promptly can be treated relatively quickly and easily.

At best, the patient concerned will only need brief psychotherapy, possibly a short inpatient stay and, depending on their condition, slightly effective psychotropic drugs. This has the advantage that there is little lost work and the drugs used are probably well tolerated and do not have to be taken for long – if at all.

An unrecognized burnout syndrome, on the other hand, continues to develop, with all the consequences for those affected. He often changes his lifestyle and develops new, unhealthy mechanisms to cope with the stresses of his everyday life. This can primarily break interpersonal relationships, but the coping mechanism can also have physical consequences.

In particularly severe cases, the burnout syndrome develops to a point at which the patient is no longer able to do anything, cannot cope with everyday life, develops suicidal thoughts and, in the worst case, puts them into practice or tries. Such advanced cases of burnout syndrome can no longer be treated quickly and usually end with inpatient stays of several months, possible occupational disability and the use of high-dose medication.


In the case of burn-out syndrome, prevention would actually be far more important than follow-up care. But once the exhaustion syndrome has occurred, the person concerned cannot be put back into functioning afterwards. Regular care and follow-up would be desirable. Life-changing measures may need to be initiated – such as halving the job in favor of maintaining health.

In what form – and whether at all – follow-up care is carried out, however, varies. Often the patient is considered to be fully resilient again after having completed rehab. Without tracking down the causes of the burn-out syndrome, however, stressors cannot be turned off or changed. Therefore, coaching after the actual treatment would be a sensible follow-up approach.

Psychological support in the year after a hospital stay accompanies the person concerned in their everyday life. It helps to make behavioral adjustments or to choose another profession. The problem is that such aftercare measures often have to be financed by yourself. The actual treatment of a burn-out syndrome often only extends to restoring functionality.

Another possibility of follow-up care would be treatment with a naturopath, ideally one with psychological training. Here, physical and mental support could be combined. Support groups are another option. Here, those affected exchange ideas and support each other with everyday problems.

Home remedies & herbs for nervous disorders

  • Teas and baths made from lemon balm and hops soothe the nerves and stabilize the mood. They are also ideal for sleep disorders.
  • 10 drops of valerian tincture dissolved in a lukewarm glass of water at night, soothes mind, soul and body in the long term. However, the calming effects can also last up to two weeks. But it also lasts longer.

You can do that yourself

Those affected by burnout syndrome usually suffer from severe stress and can hardly find a way to relax. Anyone suffering from burnout syndrome should get professional help from doctors and therapists and also observe helpful tips for self-help.

In the everyday life of those affected, it is extremely important to practice mental hygiene on a regular basis. Mind and soul can be purified with thought hygiene, so that the soul can breathe easy and is carefree. In the case of burnout syndrome, a change in behavior in everyday life should always be sought.

By taking a personal break, reducing working hours, resuming hobbies and other measures, you should take more time for yourself again in order to be able to feel yourself better again and to get into your center. With relaxation methods one can calm one’s mind even in stormy times and reduce inner tension and excitement.

An active lifestyle with sufficient exercise is also recommended. Sports such as jogging, cycling or swimming represent a successful balance to everyday life and help to reduce the stress of everyday life. With fitness training, the physical resources of those affected can be strengthened and, as a result, their body awareness and self-confidence can be improved. A healthy and balanced diet ensures that the body is adequately supplied with nutrients and thus also provides stabilization on the physical side.

Burnout Syndrome

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