Burnout syndrome is described as a condition of physical and psychological exhaustion. As the English word says, people with burnout literally feel burnt-out, empty and weak. Burnout is usually the end point of a lengthy period involving stress at work and at home, excessive pressure to perform and a lack of recuperation or relaxation.
People between the age of 40 and 50 are often affected by burnout. At this point in life, high professional and private demands are mixed with the onset of age-related energy loss. People who always want to live up to the high expectations placed upon them, who cannot find a good balance between work and recreation, and do not take note of warning signals are particularly at risk of developing burnout. A high workload, time constraints, monotonous work or very little self-determination at work are external factors which contribute to the occurrence of burnout. On a personal level, conscientiousness, perfectionism and high self-expectation are among the risk factors for a burnout.
Burnout usually begins insidiously with difficulty sleeping, apathy, concentration problems, irritation and an increasing lack of energy. Physical symptoms such as digestive problems, headaches and muscle tension are often also part of the equation. Those affected do not usually pay sufficient attention to the warning signals from their body and continue to try and meet all the demands placed on them until the day when their batteries are completely empty. A total breakdown is not a rarity. In the case of other people, an exhaustive depression then develops from the burnout over time.
Burnout is diagnosed on the basis of the patient’s medical history and the characteristic symptoms. Sometimes additional examinations and diagnostic clarifications are carried out to rule out any other psychological or physical diseases.
The treatment depends on the causes of the burnout. The focus is on restoring the patient’s energy balance, taking a step back, relaxing and reducing stress. Special rehabilitation programmes or short stays in a rehabilitation centre can support this process. Depending on the situation, changes to the patient’s working and/or private situation are advisable.