Burnout can manifest itself in very different and individual symptoms. Nevertheless, central themes are formulated similarly by all those affected: In particular, profound exhaustion and episodes of emotionlessness, inner emptiness, or disturbed sleep are frequently reported. But also, persistent sleep disturbances or various physical symptoms are initially noticeable. Burnout usually begins insidiously and arises from the individual circumstances of the patient. Negative stress, life in the fast lane and under constant strain, high social, financial, or family pressure, poor eating habits, constant accessibility, and the feeling of never being allowed to switch off completely – are some of the causes that can sooner or later throw the body and soul out of balance.
Often, the first noticeable symptoms are constant sleep disturbances, fatigue, and exhaustion. Those affected report persistent tiredness that increasingly prevents them from performing their daily (work) workload. At the same time, they feel that they need more and more rest and longer breaks to regenerate. However, after phases of relaxation, their own “battery” no longer lasts as long as it used to. For example, if you used to feel fit for the next week after a weekend, it now takes much longer to achieve this state of mind. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain one’s own level of performance. At the same time, the opportunity to switch off is missing, and finally, there is no longer a “place of retreat” or “retreat time” to relax body and soul.
The result: body and soul get out of balance, and performance decreases. At work, mistakes creep in due to a lack of concentration. Success increasingly fails to materialize. Colleagues and superiors may react with rejection or incomprehension. In order to compensate for this, the person concerned exerts himself more and more, but this only deepens his state of exhaustion. This can trigger anxiety in the person affected, which is often accompanied by changes in behavior. Feelings of sadness, anger, or despair that appear even at small hurdles that used to be easy to master can creep in: The emotional and physical resilience decreases sharply.
If such a condition remains untreated for a long time, it often develops into depression. Burnout can thus also be described as a possible precursor to a clinically conspicuous depressive illness.
In this state, physical complaints related to burnout syndrome are often misinterpreted as usual medical problems, and somatically verifiable causes are sought, which then cannot be found. These can include stress-related headaches and backaches, toothaches, digestive issues, dizziness, tinnitus, palpitations, and sleep disorders.
To accurately assess these aspects, it is also necessary to look for possible somatic causes. For example, a thyroid disease could be responsible for fatigue and exhaustion. But chronic inflammation can also weaken the body’s performance. Therefore, organic causes for the symptoms must first be ruled out. Then standardized tests, for example, in the form of questionnaires and special interviews, help to classify the complaints more precisely.