woman exhausted at mirror
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You're Exhausted

Are you so tired that you can't move a muscle? Do you drag yourself out of bed to get to work in the morning? Does your 8-hour shift feel like 80? Burnout is a kind of work-related stress characterized by three specific things. The first is a feeling that you're exhausted -- both emotionally and physically.

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cynical man stroking beard
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You're Turning Cynical

The second thing that characterizes burnout is cynicism -- a lack of interest in work that can be negative or even callous. Exhaustion often leads to it.

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unhappy at work
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You're Feeling Useless

The third burnout pillar is a sense of incompetence, a feeling that you just can't be effective. It leads to a lack of accomplishment and productivity. Sometimes, that feeling seems to be a result of the other two tent poles of burnout -- exhaustion and cynicism. Other times, all three come down on you at once.

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peering through blinds
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You're Depressed

If you're exhausted, cynical, and feeling useless, it's no wonder that depression can set in.

Research shows burnout is mainly a job thing, while depression is a whole-life thing that can include your job. But they're connected. Studies show that if you're prone to depression, you're more vulnerable to burnout.

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worried logistics worker
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You Hate Your Job

Studies show that job dissatisfaction is one of several side effects (along with things like absenteeism and many physical ailments) of burnout.

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angry with co-worker
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Everything Gets Under Your Skin

If the stresses of your job get to be too much or if you turn irritable with your co-workers (or, worse, customers or clients), burnout might be the culprit. It can get worse, too: Outright anger is another sign your job might be burning you out.

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distracted in meeting
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Your Mind Wanders

Trouble concentrating is one of the mental signs (along with things like forgetfulness) that could tell you burnout is approaching. Some studies suggest more than 100 symptoms for it. They include motivational symptoms like disillusionment and a loss of idealism.

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light on late at night
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Sleep Is Tough to Get

Some studies link trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep to burnout (though other studies don't find a clear connection). Don’t fool around with sleep problems. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can bring higher chances of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease.

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aspirin in hand
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Another Headache?

Herbert Freudenberger, the psychologist who coined the concept of burnout in 1974, cited frequent headaches as a physical characteristic of the disorder. Like sleep problems, this isn't scientifically settled.

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effervescent tablet
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That Pain in Your Gut

That stomach and bowel pain you have might have to do with burnout, too. It and the stress that can come with it can weaken your immune system. That might explain the problems with your tummy.

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woman smoking joint
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Drinks, Drugs, and Other Comforts

Using food, alcohol, or drugs to feel better may be a symptom of job burnout. This can be serious. Obesity, or alcohol and drug misuse, can lead to all sorts of health problems.

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gauge reading red
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Burnout and Blood Pressure

If your blood pressure is up, your job might have something to do with it. Along with that, you might get a quicker heartbeat, too. Neither is good for you. They could damage not only your heart but your brain and your kidneys, too.

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pouring water garden center diptych
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Thirsty? Vision Blurred?

Being overly thirsty and having blurred vision are two signs of diabetes. Burnout may raise your chances of type 2 diabetes. If you're showing these or other symptoms of diabetes -- and you're having problems at work that might be related to burnout -- the two might be tied.

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empty work desk
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The Sick Days Are Piling Up

Research has found that burnout can trigger both absenteeism and presenteeism (which means coming to work even when you're sick). And it works the other way. All those sick days and feeling crummy while you're at work can lead to more burnout.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/23/2019 Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on July 23, 2019

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SOURCES:
 

Maslach, C. Annual Review of Psychology, 2001.

Mayo Clinic: "Job burnout: How to spot it and take action."

Salvagioni, D. PLoS One, published online October 4, 2017.

Heinemann, L. SAGE Open, January-March 2017.

Schaufeli, W.B. Handbook of human factors and ergonomics in health care and patient safety, 2007, pp. 217-232.

National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute: "Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency."

Chang, J. PeerJ, published online Dec. 19, 2017.

National Headache Foundation: "Stress."

CDC: "The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity."

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: "Alcohol's Effects on the Body."

National Institute on Drug Abuse: "Health Consequences of Drug Misuse."

CDC: "Effects of High Blood Pressure."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes."

American Diabetes Association: "Type 2."

Melamed, S. Psychosomatic Medicine, Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, November-December 2006.

American Diabetes Association: "Facts About Type 2."

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on July 23, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.