Originally conceptualised by psychologist researcher Herbert Freudenberger (1974), burnout is an occupation-related syndrome that has considerable cognitive implications (Schaufeli Leiter, & Maslach, 2008) and may manifest in symptoms of anxiety, decreased work engagement, and negative mood symptoms.

Burnout can result from unrelenting work-related stress; however, the condition of burnout is distinguished from stress by the inability to recover after a period of rest.  In general, stress involves an overwhelming number of pressures that demand too many mental, physical, and emotional resources.  

Burnout is conceptualised as a void of resources rather than as an excess amount of perceived workplace pressure.  Burnout is related to unrelenting stress; however, the line between excessive stress and burnout can be extremely difficult to differentiate in practice.  The key hallmarks of the two constructs are the emotional ability to rebound after a period of time away from the factors that contribute to stress.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of burnout are categorized into three main domains:

  1. Emotional Exhaustion
  2. Reduced Professional Engagement
  3. Depresonalization

Everyone’s experience of burnout is different. lightheadedness; headaches, rapid heartbeat; chest pain/tightness; dry mouth, upset stomach and indigestion, feelings of restlessness, dizziness, muscle tension, tingling pins and needles; and cold and clammy hands.


Although research in burnout is still an emerging field, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may help individuals identify and modify negative work-related thoughts, manage negative emotional states, and alter maladaptive behavioural outcomes to alleviate the core symptoms of burnout. Furthermore, learning new coping skills and strategies, self care practices, and re-engagement of meaning and purpose can help mitigate the effects of burnout and increase both personal and professional wellbeing.

Get in Touch

Mission Hill Psychology specializes in the treatment of burnout. Reach out to us to book in for a 15-minute consultation to see how we can help!