Dealing with Burnout

match-143179_640It can be difficult not to get overwhelmed with a heavy workload, whether it be for school, a job, or even being tasked with chores and errands. Sometimes, the stress associated with work and a large amount of things to do, no matter if you enjoy it or not, can lead to burnout, or an extended period of time that involves a decline in job performance. This is due to exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, particularly because of overworking.

Up until recently, burning out has been associated with the workforce and jobs, and mostly with adulthood. However, studies are showing that burnouts can also occur with students, stating that the expectations that come with academic performance are similar to those in a career field. Not all burnouts result from a heavy workload though: things like a lack of support from peers, others’ success, and a lack of control can all contribute as well. They can all make you feel that you have to work even harder, or the pressure can get to be so much that it feels overwhelming, and the chances of burning out begin to significantly increase.

At a first glance, the symptoms of burnout are similar to those seen in depression, such as exhaustion, a loss of interest in things, pessimism, and poor performance. While burnout comes from external factors and depression is psychological, the two can influence each other. In fact, a study on adolescent burnout and depression has shown that the relationship is reciprocal. Those who experience burnout can later experience more severe symptoms of depression, and those who have depressive symptoms are more likely to experience burnout.

planner-2641215_1280Now that burnout is starting to be applied to adolescents as well, we can start to discuss just why today’s teenagers and young adults are experiencing it. As the study we mentioned states, burnout and depression can go hand in hand, and other studies have started to see an increase of depression in adolescents compared to those in the past. This doesn’t have to include clinical depression either: one in three adolescents experience depressive symptoms. The pressures placed on students doesn’t help either, especially with the increased feeling of competition with few spots for rewards.

The solutions offered to cope with burnout are similar to those if you’re also experiencing depressive symptoms. These include getting more sleep, unplugging, or finding non-academic or work-related activities to ease your mind. Each person is different however, and it’s up to you to play around and decide what the best ways to avoid feeling overwhelmed are.


Do you think you’ve experienced burnout? Why do you think adolescents are more at risk of experiencing it now? What do you do if you’re feeling overwhelmed from school and/or work?

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Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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