We are all busy at work sometimes, but questioner Peter is afraid that he is heading for a burnout due to the hectic pace at work. Besides his busy job, he has a young family and he also wants to do (a lot of) social things. “But lately I’ve noticed that I feel down, even when I’m having an evening with friends, for example, which normally gives me a lot of energy. I also notice that I can’t take much of friends and family, I’m irritable, I forget a lot of things and make careless mistakes at work. I am also very tired, while I do sleep well.”
He wants to know from psychologist Bjarne Timonen: what are the red flags when it comes to getting burned out? “When should I ring the bell? Or am I already too late?”
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According to Timonen, Peter ‘unfortunately already has quite a few red flags’. “Exhaustion is such a red flag,” Timonen says. “The idea is that you come from work with enough energy in your tank for the evening. That energy decreases during the week, but that’s why we also have weekends: to recharge. A problem arises when you use your free can’t use time to gather enough energy again, which leads to exhaustion.”
In addition, the irritability that Peter experiences is not a good sign, says Timonen. “Irritability means that there is too much tension on your network. Moreover, that irritability is often accompanied by a lot of regret afterwards, because you did not want to react to your friends or family that way at all.”
Don’t enjoy it anymore
Another bright red flag, according to Timonen: when you suddenly can no longer enjoy things that you used to enjoy. “Then the alarm bells always go off. That is also one of the signs of depression. You may also have two problems: a burnout often goes together with sadness.”
Concentration problems that make you forget things or make mistakes all make you feel less competent at work and doubt your own abilities, says Timonen. “What I often see in people who have a burnout: they become cynical about their work and their employer. They no longer feel like going to work and everything that has to do with their work is surrounded by negative feelings .”
Is there no light at all for Peter? Yes, says Timonen, it is a positive sign that he is still sleeping well. “As soon as your sleep is compromised, almost everything is compromised. Poor sleep worsens just about all psychological complaints that there are. Sleep is sacred.”
Overwrought or burnout?
Moreover, Timonen thinks that Peter is currently overstrained, but does not have a burnout yet. “A burnout is overstrain that has become chronic. It is not that far yet. If he takes a number of steps now, he can prevent that burnout.” One of those things is (more) sports and exercise, which reduces the production of the stress hormone.
In addition, Timonen advises him to talk to a confidential counselor at work about the issues he thinks are the problem.
If the time comes that Peter has to stop working for a while, then it is then important to draw up a reintegration plan with your practitioner and the company doctor. “If you don’t do this, there is a real chance that you will develop fear for your work. That you will increasingly dread returning to your workplace. This can be prevented with a good plan.”
“Besides,” says Timonen, “it’s just a job. There are so many more important things in your life than your job. And sometimes the conclusion is that this job or job just isn’t right for you. We don’t always have to. in the psyche, huh?!”
Frustrating: no official diagnosis
Peter deals with his problems in a broad community, says psychologist Timonen. “Burnouts are one of the biggest problems of our society, next to depression, anxiety disorders and addictions.” He finds it all the more strange that ‘a burnout’ is still not an official diagnosis within psychology. “While we know very well how to validate a burnout, patients also feel much better heard when the correct diagnosis is made,” says Timonen.
“That is a frustration. Now we often diagnose ‘somatic symptom disorder’, while we know full well that we have someone with a burnout in front of us.”