According to clinical psychologist Nicole Pensak, Ph.D., burnout is the result of chronic stress at the workplace [and] is characterized by “exhaustion, lack of meaning and drive, and loss of interest at work.” As she previously told mindbodygreen, burnout presents more closely to depression than anxiety, for instance, and can take a serious toll on your motivation and energy.
We are built to handle some stress, after all, but without any opportunity for respite, chronic stress becomes unsustainable for the body, mind, and spirit.
As functional medicine physician Robin Berzin, M.D. previously wrote for mindbodygreen, continuously high cortisol levels (the stress hormone) can leave you perpetually exhausted no matter how much sleep you get, and in some cases, even result in low DHEA and thyroid hormone levels.
Worst of all, many of us will tolerate or ignore initial symptoms of stress (i.e. feeling wired yet tired, or anxious) because there are things to do, bills to pay, etc., until it’s too late and we reach full blown burnout.
It’s also worth noting that recent research on burnout and the big five personality traits found higher levels of neuroticism, and lower agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness, are associated with higher levels of burnout.