3 Types Of Burnout That Will All But Kill You

According to psychologists, be aware of the signs so that you can catch them early.

Melody Wilding
May 8 · 3 min read

You’re working hard and hustling to build a career you love. But you’re also tired, stressed, and feeling cynical about the future.

Could you be burned out?

Burnout refers to a collection of different physical, emotional, and mental reactions that occur in response to prolonged stress and overworking. Surprisingly, experts can’t agree on exactly how to define burnout, but in recent years its become recognized as an actual diagnosis among medical professionals.

Nevertheless, it’s important to be able to spot the signs and symptoms of burnout because it’s associated with a number of health problems. Chronic stress contributes to anxiety, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and emotional difficulties. Burnout changes the brain, impacting creativity, working memory, and problem-solving.

The Three Types of Burnout

Most people don’t realize there are three different types of burnout:

1. Overload burnout

With overload burnout, people work harder and ever-more frantically in search of success. They are willing to risk their health and personal life in pursuit of their ambition. They cope by complaining.

2. Under-challenge burnout

Signs of under-challenge burnout include not feeling appreciated, boredom, and a lack of learning opportunities. Because these people find no passion or enjoyment in their work, they cope by distancing themselves from their job. This indifference leads to cynicism, avoidance of responsibility, and overall disengagement.

3. Neglect burnout

This subtype of burnout results from feeling helpless at work. People may feel incompetent or unable to keep up with the demands of their job. These employees tend to be passive and unmotivated.

Signs of Burnout

How can you tell if you or someone you know is crossing the line from stressed to burned out? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Physical symptoms such as exhaustion most of the time, headaches, and muscle aches
  • Getting sick often
  • A negative attitude about work or your career
  • Feeling like everything is overwhelming or your efforts are futile
  • Neglecting your own needs, as if you’re a pushover
  • Withdrawing from new responsibilities, challenges, and people
  • Procrastinating, mainly avoidance or work or it taking longer because you can’t concentrate
  • Short tempered, especially with colleagues
  • Difficulty sticking to regular self-care (i.e. exercise, eating well, etc.)
  • Loss of motivation and optimism

Research finds that certain personality traits, like being a Type A, high-achiever can also contribute to burnout. You can act to reduce your stress by setting better boundaries, managing negative thoughts, and learning to speak up and be more assertive. Believe it or not, it’s possible to love your work and find joy in it, not dread.

Burnout is an insidious condition. It happens slowly, over a long period of time. But the consequences can be life-altering, which is why it’s important to spot the signs early.

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Melody Wilding is a performance coach for sensitive high achievers and professor of human behavior. She helps leaders at companies like Google, Facebook, HP, Salesforce and HBO stop doubting themselves so they can strive for a successful career and a balanced life.

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Melody Wilding

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Career & executive coach for sensitive high achievers. Human Behavior prof. Get the free guide thousands use to manage emotions at work: melodywilding.com/guide

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +477K people. Follow to join our community.