Burnout researched and published in the 1970s from the psychologist Herbert Freudenberger and then he and his colleague Gail North identified 12 stages that lead up to burnout. These twelve stages do not have to happen in order. Some people can experience them all whilst others may only experience some of them. These stages are caused by stress and the fight or flight response being constantly activated.
The stages are:
- The Compulsion to Prove Oneself: always trying to prove to self and to others, and in the process becoming very stressed and exhausted.
- Working Harder: have difficulty saying ‘no’ and taking on more and more work always thinking they can do it best.
- Neglecting Needs: not sleeping properly or eating regular meals and little interaction with others.
- Displacement of Conflicts: could feel threatened, dismiss any problems and not prioritise at work
- Revision of Values: Change of their values around self and may prioritise more on work
- Denial of Emerging Problems: short-tempered, cynical, making different excuses for pressures at work, blaming others
- Withdrawal: not communicating with others around and becoming more stressed
- Odd Behavioural Changes: changes in behaviour which is often recognised by colleagues, family and close friends before self acknowledges something is not right.
- Depersonalisation: doesn’t see being of any value and is not aware of own needs including physical, emotional and mental health.
- Inner Emptiness: has a feeling of being empty inside and to compensate may overeat, take alcohol and/or drugs.
- Depression: becomes indifferent, exhausted and the future does not look good at all.
- Burnout Syndrome: mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.
If you are worried or concerned, it is best to make an appointment with a medical practitioner.