When Should You See A Doctor For Burnout? 5 Ways To Know

Everyone has days where they just do not want to be at work. Days when they are overwhelmed and want to be anywhere but at their jobs. However, there are times when these occasional feelings become constant. When this occurs, many doctors would diagnose you as suffering from burnout.

How do you know when you should see a doctor for burnout? Here are 5 ways to know:

  • Overwhelming exhaustion
  • Isolating yourself from family and friends
  • Fantasising about escaping your current situation
  • Being easily irritated
  • Getting sick all the time

How do you know whether you are simply overworked or are actually suffering from burnout and should see a doctor to help you treat it? Below the five signs of work burnout are described in detail.

Overwhelming Exhaustion

One of the most common signs of work burnout is overwhelming exhaustion. You find yourself tired and have no desire to do anything. You may catch yourself yawning a lot or even falling asleep at inappropriate times.

Exhaustion is a symptom of many ailments. However, when it is a symptom of burnout, it is constant and all-consuming. Exhaustion due to burnout can be both mental and physical.

Mental Exhaustion

When you are mentally exhausted from burnout, nothing you do seems easy at all; even such menial tasks as brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes can seem difficult.

You also have minimal emotional resilience–anything can cause you to get upset or stressed. Spilling your coffee can seem like the end of the world.

Mental exhaustion, as a result of burnout, also leaves you feeling anxious. Many people describe this as “always waiting for the next bad thing to happen.” They are on edge, stressed out, and worried.

When you are burnt out, you also tend to have little patience with others. Just about anything anyone does can irritate and annoy you. That song on the radio you usually enjoy grates on your ear,s and your co-worker’s “Hello” leaves you feeling stressed.

You may also feel helpless and overwhelmed. Your to-do list may seem like it is never-ending. You may feel like you are buried under a pile of work out of which you can not dig yourself out. And worse still, others may be piling on even more things to do.

In extreme cases of mental exhaustion from burnout, you may have little motivation and may even experience suicidal thoughts.

Physical Exhaustion

Everyone feels physically exhausted from time to time. You pushed too hard doing yard work or something else and your body just will not push anymore.

However, when you are physically exhausted from burnout, your symptoms are nearly constant and sometimes even more extreme.

You are physically exhausted but you have trouble sleeping. Or you sleep too much and still wake up feeling unrested.

Your body also aches. You have headaches, as well as muscle aches and pains. Moreover, these pains do not have an explanation. You have not hurt yourself in some way; your body just hurts.

Treating Exhaustion

If you are suffering from any of the described symptoms of exhaustion from burnout, it is time to make a change. The first step is to visit your doctor and tell him or her what you are experiencing.

He or she will recommend a variety of treatments, from seeing a therapist, to reducing stress at work, to even trying some medication to treat your burnout symptoms.

Your doctor may suggest you take time off at work or even ask your superiors if you can change your work environment. Some people suffering from burnout have had good results treating their burnout by working from home at least a few days a week.

Homeopathic Remedies

Your doctor may also suggest that you partake in some alternative treatments for your burnout. These can include meditation, which has been shown to help with feelings of mental and physical exhaustion.

Some doctors also recommend starting up a yoga practice or other exercise routine. Exercise helps to release endorphins in your body, which in turn helps to raise your feelings of happiness and overall contentment.

Isolating Yourself From Family and Friends

When you are suffering from burnout, another symptom is self-isolation. You do not want to see your loved ones. You stop doing things you enjoy like going out to dinner, visiting friends, or even picking up calls.

Instead, you spend time at home doing nothing in particular. In extreme cases, people suffering from burnout will spend their time in bed sleeping or even just staring at the wall.

When you are suffering from burnout and start to isolate yourself, it may be hard to recognize the problem at first. In the beginning, it will feel like you just want to have some “me time” or rest.

However, when you find yourself dodging phone calls and texts and even pretending you are not home when someone knocks on your door, it is time to call your doctor.

Treating Isolation From Burnout

When your doctor recognizes that you are suffering from isolation due to burnout, he or she will probably recommend that you take small steps at first.

For instance, your doctor may suggest you go to your local coffee shop and sit in the restaurant and drink your coffee.

Though you will still be alone at your table, seeing other people interacting, hearing them talk, and being surrounded by others will help you to break down the barriers you have built up.

Your doctor may also suggest you set strict work boundaries for yourself. Do not bring work home, do not work on the weekends, and so forth.

This will help you to limit the burnout you are feeling from work. In turn, this will reduce your feeling of wanting to isolate yourself.

Reach Out to Friends and Family

Though it may seem contradictory, one of the best treatments for wanting to isolate yourself due to burnout is to reach out to your loved ones.

Many doctors recommend that you reach out to one person with whom you are quite close and you tell him or her what is going on. Try to be as open and honest as you can with this person.

By doing this, whenever this person starts to see you pull away, they can call you on it, and help you to treat your symptoms before they get too extreme.

Also, at times, a simple phone call with a friend is enough to help you to feel less burnt out. Speaking to another person helps to pull you out of your own mind and problems and focus on another person.

This in and of itself will make you feel less isolated and in turn less burnt out.

Fantasizing About Escaping Your Current Situation

Everyone has escape fantasies from time to time. Daydreaming about being on a cruise ship instead of at your desk is normal and not a sign of burnout.

However, when you find yourself constantly daydreaming about escape, then you may be suffering from this ailment.

For instance, if you find yourself fantasizing about ways to escape the task you have been given and these fantasies include ideas of terrible car crashes or other extreme ways of escape, it is time to speak to your doctor about your burnout symptoms.

In addition, if you find yourself dreaming about running away or even wanting to turn to drugs or alcohol for escape, reach out to your doctor. He or she will be able to help you treat your work burnout symptoms.

Treatment for Wanting to Escape

One of the most common treatments for escape fantasies due to work burnout is therapy. Your doctor will recommend that you see a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you handle your symptoms.

Your therapist will help you to explore your escape fantasies and get to the underlying causes. Many times a therapist will help you to pinpoint what part of your job is stressing you the most and causing you to have these extreme thoughts.

He or she may also recommend some kind of antidepressant or other medication. Oftentimes this medication is simply a tool to work through whatever burnout symptoms you are experiencing and is not a lifetime diagnosis.

Do not allow the stigma of drugs and therapy to keep you from getting the treatment you need for your burnout.

Many patients who have suffered from burnout were at first extremely wary of therapists and medication. However, after these patients went through the treatment, they were extremely happy that they did.

Actually Escape

One cure for your burnout fantasies that your doctor may recommend? Actually escape for a few days–take a vacation. Plan a weekend getaway with someone or a few people close to you.

Changing your environment will help you to feel less burnt out because your mind will not be focusing on work and worry. Instead, it will be stimulated by new views, people, and experiences.

Most doctors do not recommend taking a vacation by yourself when you are suffering from burnout, however. This may result in you feeling more isolated and aggravating other symptoms of burnout that you may be experiencing.

Being Easily Irritated

When you are suffering from burnout, everything annoys and irritates you. For instance, many people who are burnt out have described how even the way their coworkers breathe irritates them.

You may find yourself not being able to concentrate because you are so annoyed by the way someone taps their foot or how someone wrote an email, or even how your own hair falls across your forehead.

Anything and everything bothers you when you are suffering from burnout. No matter where you go or what you do, you are just irritated. When you find yourself feeling this way on a regular basis, it is time to speak to your doctor about your work burnout.

Treatment for Irritation

Ironically, the best treatment for irritation caused by burnout is isolation–not isolation for a long period of time, but at least for a few hours or even a day. Your doctor may suggest you go home and put yourself to bed.

Some physicians may even prescribe something to help you sleep. A lot of times, irritation due to burnout has its root in exhaustion. Once you have rested, things will be much less annoying overall.

Another treatment many doctors recommend is journal therapy. Getting a journal and writing down everything that is bothering you often helps you let go of the things that are bothering you.

Some therapists recommend you writing down what is bothering you on a loose sheet of paper. Once you have written down everything, you then destroy the piece of paper by ripping it up or even burning it.

This act of destroying your worries is a metaphor for letting your worries go. Many patients have suggested that this exercise works well for them.

Get Physical

When everything and anything is irritating you due to burnout, one of the most common treatments doctors recommend is exercise. Get outside and go for a run or even just a walk.

By getting up and moving around, you force your mind to focus on your body and not on whatever else might be annoying you. Moreover, as described before, exercise releases endorphins, which help to make you feel better overall.

Though you can do exercise inside on a treadmill or elliptical, many doctors recommend going outside when you need a state change for dealing with burnout. Being outside is a more drastic environmental change, which will help you to have a stronger mental disconnect.

Being outside also enables you to get some sunshine, which in turn gives you vitamin D and increases your feelings of well-being and happiness.

Getting Sick All the Time

When you are suffering from burnout, your body actually shows symptoms. For instance, you may catch a cold that you just can not shake. Or you may have a constant sore throat or earache.

When your body is continuously sick, it means that your immune system is not doing its job. This is a major sign of burnout.

When you are physically and emotionally run down and stressed, your body does not have time or the resources to take care of itself.

If you are always getting sick, reach out to your doctor. He or she will help you to treat your sickness but also your work burnout.

Treatment for Continuous Sickness

When you visit your doctor because you are always sick, he or she may first do lab work and check how your immune system is functioning.

Once any major problems with your body are ruled out, your doctor will then ask you questions to gauge your stress level and whether you are suffering from burnout or not.

If your doctor diagnoses you as having burnout, he or she will probably recommend a series of steps to take to treat it. These will include resting, taking time off work, modifying your work schedule, and more.

Your doctor may also suggest that you start to take some kind of medication and/or supplements.

More than likely your physician will recommend that you start taking a daily multivitamin to help build up your immune system and counteract your continuous colds and other illnesses.

Listen to Your Body

Your body knows when it needs something, so start listening to it. If you start working to become attune with your body, you will start to be able to take better care of it.

If you are getting sick all the time, figure out what your body needs. It may need more rest, more time off, or even just a glass of orange juice.

When you are able to be in sync with your body, it will work with you rather than against you. When you need to push, it will push, as long as you take care of it in your downtime.

Many times people focus on the mental and emotional aspects of burnout, but the physical symptoms can do real damage to your body. So, start paying attention and learning the signals your body is giving you.

Your body is an amazing machine when it works properly. It just needs its owner to pay attention to it and take care of it. Once you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.


Burnout is a real medical condition and can result in many different symptoms. These symptoms can range from mental to emotional to even physical signs that you are suffering from work burnout.

Do not be ashamed to reach out to others when you are suffering from burnout. It is a real ailment with real solutions.

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, do not simply ignore the signs you are seeing. Instead, speak to your doctor. He or she has ways to help you to treat your symptoms and manage your burnout.

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