Is Burnout a Mental Illness?

Is Burnout a Mental Illness?

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Burnout Mental Illness


Everyone experiences stress at some point and usually at several points during their life. Stress often means we have a lot going on in our life. All of that may feel like too much to handle. Many people say that there are healthy amounts of stress. Healthy amounts or types of stress can motivate you to work hard and achieve your goals. Accomplishing what you have set out to do is great. However, that stress that used to launch you forward can pile up and eventually demobilize you.


Burnout is a mental and physical state that you may or may not have heard of before. Some people may define burnout as too much stress, others say there is a direct link to Depression. While that amount of stress may have led to burnout, burnout is better defined as too little. Once you reach the level of burnout, the stress that you felt before almost disappears. It does not actually disappear, but you become so desensitized to it and everything else in your life that you begin to think that nothing matters. The items that stress you out do not disappear. Your motivation to complete them and everything else does.


Burnout occurs when you finally become unable to meet those constant and consistent demands. You are overwhelmed, emotionally drained and just want to give up everything. Nothing matters anymore. Burnout is often caused by stress from work or occupational responsibilities. However, it can be caused by any life role that you take on. Parents may feel burnout in their role of taking care of their children, for example.

While stress can make you feel exhausted, burnout makes all of your energy and motivation disappear. You feel helpless and unable to do anything. And this can occur and affect all areas of your life. This amount of physical and emotional turmoil on your mind and your body can have extremely long-term effects. Your immunity will fall short and you will get sick often. You will also deal with other symptoms:



-Avoiding responsibilities


-Tired and drained

-Detached from others and the world

-Feelings of helplessness

-Sense of failure


-Skipping work and responsibilities

-Using substances to cope

-Anger with others who do not deserve it

-Decreased satisfaction in life

-Cynical and negative outlook on life

-Lack of motivation

-Change in appetite

-Change in Sleep

-Frequent headaches

-Muscle pain


Everyone has days where we feel overwhelmed and helpless1 Days where we do not want to get out of bed. That is normal and many people can move through it fairly quickly. Feeling like this all of the time is when something else may be wrong.

Once someone reaches a state of burnout, it can be really difficult to try and move out of it. This is partly because one of the key symptoms of burnout is a lack of motivation and the thought that nothing matters and nothing will get better. Trying to get ahead of burnout before it takes a hold of you can be helpful in the long run. If you experience any of these feelings or symptoms every single day, you may be headed towards a period of burnout. Do your best to jump ahead and get help before it settles in:


-Nothing you do is appreciated

-Nothing that you do will make a difference or help you get better

-Every single hour of every day is bad. You go from having some bad days to every day being a bad day.

-You are constantly and consistently exhausted with no amount of energy or motivation

-Caring about stuff feels useless

-You are overwhelmed by tasks that are difficult or extremely dull.


Most adults will experience some level of burnout throughout their lifetime. The nice thing is, burnout is now recognized as an official syndrome by healthcare and psychological communities. It was added to the ICD in 2019. The ICD is the International Classification of Diseases. It is a book and manual that lists every single disease or syndrome that has been officially classified as such and someone can be diagnosed with. It is officially considered a medical diagnosis. Because of this, Americans with burnout are now supported by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Someone who is diagnosed with burnout may be able to receive accommodations from their employer because of their diagnosis.

Burnout Mental Illness Treatment


Now that we have established what burnout is and what the causes are, how can someone with burnout get better?


The first step recommended to those dealing with burnout? Reach out to the people who love and care about you. A support system is an amazing way to heal. Burnout may cause you to disengage from your loved ones. Lean in and let them help you. See if they can take away anything that is causing you stress.


What is causing your burnout? If it is work, it may be necessary for some time off. If that is not possible, reevaluating the value of your work can help you see what you accomplish every day. Attending therapy with a licensed counselor or psychologist can help guide you through your relationship with what caused your burnout. Because jobs are so often the cause, reevaluating your place and how you approach your work is necessary. Some time off can help this process.


If you are seeking treatment, your licensed healthcare professional with analyze and assess where the stress came from and what caused the development of burnout. There are many evidence-based practices that these mental health professionals can use to help uncover the causes and help alleviate symptoms of burnout. They can help you regain peace and relearn how to calm your mind and your body. These practices can help remind you of your purpose and the meaning behind everything you do in your life. Support groups are often very helpful as well. Your therapist may recommend attending a group with individuals who are also experiencing the same symptoms. This support system is proven to help make the process simpler and easier to move through. If time away from your routine and your regular life is what your mental health professional believes to be most helpful in your situation, there are centers that offer rehabilitation services for those diagnosed with burnout.

A number of the Worlds Best Rehabs now have dedicated Burnout Treatment programs such as Sierra Tucson in Arizona, Clinic Les Alpes in Switzerland and most of the treatment centers in Los Angeles.

References: Burnout Mental Illness

  1. Maslach C, Jackson SE. The measurement of experienced burnout. J Occupat Behav 1981;2:99‐113. []
  2. Freudenberger HJ, Richelson G. Burn‐out: the high cost of high achievement. Garden City: Doubleday, 1980. []
  3. Halbesleben JBR, Demerouti E. The construct validity of an alternative measure of burnout: investigation of the English translation of the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory. Work Stress 2005;19:208‐20. []
  4. Borgogni L, Consiglio C, Alessandri G et al. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” Interpersonal strain at work and burnout. Eur J Work Organizat Psychol 2012;21:875‐98. []
  5. Bakker AB, Demerouti E. The Job Demands‐Resources model: state of the art. J Manag Psychol 2007;22:309‐28. []
  6. Karasek R, Theorell T. Stress, productivity, and the reconstruction of working life. New York: Basic Books, 1990. []
  7. Savicki V, Cooley E, Gjesvold J. Harassment as a predictor of job burnout in correctional officers. Crim J Behav 2003;30:602‐19. []
  8. Bressi C, Porcellana M, Gambini O et al. Burnout among psychiatrists in Milan: a multicenter survey. Psychiatr Serv 2009;60:985‐8. [PubMed] []
  9. Ndetei DM, Pizzo M, Maru H et al. Burnout in staff working at the Mathari psychiatric hospital. Afr J Psychiatry 2008;11:199‐203. [PubMed] []
  10. Holmqvist R, Jeanneau M. Burnout and psychiatric staff’s feelings towards patients. Psychiatry Res 2006;145:207‐13. [PubMed] []
  11. Kroenke K, Spitzer RL. The PHQ‐9: a new depression diagnostic and severity measure. Psychiatr Ann 2002;32:1‐7. []
  12. Schaufeli WB, Bakker A, Schaap C et al. On the clinical validity of the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Burnout Measure. Psychol Health 2001;16:565‐82. [PubMed] []
  13. Swetz KM, Harrington SE, Matsuyama RK et al. Strategies for avoiding burnout in hospice and palliative medicine: peer advice for physicians on achieving longevity and fulfillment. J Palliat Med 2009;12:773‐7. [PubMed] []

Alexander Bentley is the Chairman & CEO of Remedy Wellbeing™ as well as the creator & pioneer behind Tripnotherapy™, embracing ‘NextGen’ psychedelic bio-pharmaceuticals to treat burnout, addiction, depression, anxiety and psychological unease.

Under his leadership as CEO, Remedy Wellbeing™ received the accolade of Overall Winner: Worlds Best Rehab 2022 by Worlds Best Rehab Magazine. Because of his incredible work, the clinic is the world’s first $1 million-plus exclusive rehab center providing an escape for individuals and families requiring absolute discretion such as Celebrities, Sportspeople, Executives, Royalty, Entrepreneurs and those subject to intense media scrutiny.

Burnout Mental Illness
Article Name
Burnout Mental Illness
Most adults will experience some level of burnout mental illness throughout their lifetime. The good thing is, burnout is now recognized as an official syndrome by healthcare and psychological communities. It was added to the ICD in 2019. The ICD is the International Classification of Diseases.
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