After completing medical school, most individuals feel passionate and ready to make a significant impact in the world. After gaining employment, these individuals work so diligently and give every task their best effort. However, after a few years, these individuals change: they start dreading their work, frequently calling in sick and look sad and devastated.
Such symptoms are not abnormal: they are signs of mental burnout. This article discusses mental burnout and what one can learn from it.
What exactly is Mental Burnout?
Essentially, burnout is a mental or physical collapse caused by stress or too much work. Although most countries lack specific legislation that addresses the vice, it can be fatal. Medical workers in Southern Asia, Eastern Europe, North America, Australia and some in Western Europe have committed suicide due to work-related stress and mostly European employees have retired early or have taken sick days more frequently than usual.
Burnout also affects students in medical schools. According to a survey conducted in the UK, 77% of the students reported that school was their number one source of stress due to coursework and exams, placements and financial worries for them and their families.
3 Things That You Can Learn From Mental Burnout
1. Burnout and depression are exceedingly related.
Burnout is mostly work-related while depression is broader – it affects all spheres of life. However, the effects of the two are similar: despair, fatigue, agitation, disinterest in work-related activities, etc. Consequently, people suffering from any one of the two crises become overburdened by everyday activities like work. In such circumstances, work per se is not the problem, but a contributing factor to further damage.
2. Burnout gets worse with time.
It is easy to assume that burnout will heal with time – it doesn’t. Unless its underlying causes are addressed, the condition only gets worse. The only way to get rid of mental burnout is to start the recovery process as soon as possible. Although the recovery process is slow, it is the only way to address the problem and move on with your life.
3. Some personality traits can contribute to burnout.
How you view the world, your work and yourself determines whether you become fatigued. People who pay too much attention to detail can feel stressed if their fellow workmates underwork; they may perceive this as intentional sabotage to their input. In addition, individuals who view everything around them in a negative light are more likely to become stressed and lose focus because nothing motivates them to keep working or try to better themselves.
Bottom line, people love their jobs because it is their main source of identity and self-worth. It is therefore not a wonder that the same jobs can completely destroy an individual’s well-being. Many factors cause exhaustion; learning from your personal experience and what one goes through after a period of mental breakdown is as important as knowing how to cope with it. But what if the situation is more than you can handle? Research your options. You may want to ask your HR department to intervene or you may want to talk with a professional therapist.
The time to address burnout is now.
Elena Eleftheriadou is a therapist and coach working with healthcare professionals with a purpose and passion to help them communicate more effectively, diminish stress and prevent burnout to improve their work-life balance.
Follow Elena for tips on communication, stress management and bunrout.