Burnout and how to recover

Posted , 6 users are following.

As a senior professional I made the mistake of selling my soul to a company with a very short memory. I suffered what I believe is genuine burnout. A research on the web is quite scary - quoting the mental and physical damage it can cause. It obviously manifests itself as depression, lethargy, feelings of hopelessness. Websites quote 6 months to fully recover.

Has anyone experienced this?

Is is really depression? or is it a damaged mind that requires rest.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi david

    i would suggest going to your GP. It does like depression to me but it should pass if you just try to take it easy on yourself. The doctor may suggest antidepressants but if you feel you don't need them that's fine but they may help you out. If you decide not to take antidepressants there is a lot of helpful advice on the net about how to deal with depression withought medication.

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  • Posted

    Are you still working for the company that caused the burnout?  I ask because it is sometimes necessary to stay when you want very much to get out.  Depending on your situation, there are strategies that should help you through this tough time.  Six months of something different from the work that caused the burnout sounds reasonable.  I think what you feel is a logical reaction to a very bad situation.  I wouldn't start on antidepressants.  Your mind is in good shape.  You recognized a bad work environment for what it is.  Now you have to deal with what happened, make peace with your decisions, and move on.  I don't think your mind is damaged at all.  I think your spirit has taken a direct hit and probably your trust in others is at an all time low.  Make plans to overcome this set back.  There has always been burnout--long before that term was coined.  It is part of life.  You are in no way damaged!  There is nothing abnormal about you because of the situation you are currently working through!
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  • Posted

    It is all that, David. Depression covers all of it. But do not let yourself become even worse by thinking about all you have read on the web. There is a need to be very careful in selecting that info on the web that is correct against a lot of other info that is bad and even damaging. There is no better alternative to taking your problem to your GP. Studies reveal we males hold back much more than we should in taking medical problems to our GPs.

    That '6 months to recover' is frankly nonsense. They even make it seem that there is a cure for depression - there is not, and the reason for that is so far medical research has not uncovered most of the mysteries of the brain. We have a battle to fight which can be won; just remember depression can arise again and for different reasons.

    There is a limit to our mental capacity to cope with increasing stress. Assuming a person is in excellent physical health there is still a limit to the amount of stress a person can manage successfully. You may have noticed the changes in others around you working in the same environment - they will all have some differences to you and others but the most significant point is noticing when that limit has been breached.

    Falling ill to depression is a sort of creeping process; we do not suddenly change from being great today but overcome by depression tomorrow. It is a process of increasing stress against which our brains work like a dam, holding back the pressure until something extra breaks that wall. That is why the descent into depression can appear to happen suddenly and then get worse because the build up is already there.

    The brain does need rest in many cases; but it needs more than that and this is where we can help ourselves. We have pushed ourselves to the limit and that has to stop. Furthermore we have to decide just what is important to us. Do not think it is just a process of overcoming depression and then returning to the very environment that caused the depression in the first place. So you mau have to make a serious change to your work and even your lifestyle.

    To start off we need help to battle the depression; that is where the anti-depressants come in. Discuss this in some detail with your GP. Always be aware that you may need to change the prescription and never make changes without seeing your GP. It is important to keep some record of what is happening to you so that you can tell your GP if necessary.

    If your general health has suffered and particularly if you are in poor physical condition, then tackle this straight away. Exercise. Long walks are particularly good when you choose an interesting route so you can see changes as they occur and the interest generated will help towards positive thinking. Push yourself physically to get better and better. Good physical health makes beating depression easier. So it comes down to using the gain from anti-depressants to drive yourself towards a return to nirmality. Banish those negative thoughts by always having positive ones. Not easy to start off but the more determined you are not to let depression beat you the sooner you will find positive thinking becomes your norm.

    One last point; it is never easy to know when one is fully recovered. Many people make the mistake of thinking they are 100% better only to fall deeper into depression. So my experience is always to continue with the meds and the routine for a good year after you first thought you are better. Why? Because we do not know enough about our brains, and therefore we cannot tell when our brains are well out of that frail state and strong enough to take back full control. However, physical good health will be an enormous guide to your future well being.

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    • Posted

      Thanks to everyone for your replies. I don't respond to SSRIs but am discussing with GP.

      Jaguar - agree with many of your comments. I worked frequently to 3am in the morning pulling the company out of a crisis. The stress slowly brought me down until one day my brain told me it had had enough. From that point on there was no motivation, energy - and no way I could continue working for that company.

      Depression is an obvious consequence. 

      I think the brain needs to recover - and I agree that this doesn't mean lying in bed all day. Routines, exercise are vital to preparing yourself to come out of this.

      There is no perfect strategy. I've accepted that I pushed myself beyond what I could take. It's a case of taking one day at a time - eating properly, exercising and doing normal routine things. Hopefully supported by my GP in some way.

      One thing I would like to get across is that I've done a lot of research on this myself and it was interesting to hear all your views. I've always said that the current list of meds is not as good as what it should be - we are maybe a decade or so behind, maybe because of the stigma that has blighted mental health. But I hate hearing people saying the drugs are not the answer and should not be taken. Drugs are not the answer but will always be part of the solution couple with improving physical health and easy to absorb CBT (not 6 x 2hrs). 

      What happened to me was a result of me trying to please a company which, at the end, had a very short memory. Successful living is about getting everything in balance - mental health, physical health, spiritual health, relationships, being appreciated in work. Once one becomes a dominant focus others will suffer and in my case my physical health and relationships took a real battering along with developing stress and depression. There is nothing wrong with working hard in a job - but do in between 8.30 and 5.30 - take your breaks - maybe go for a walk at lunch - and leave your laptop in work. Evenings and weekends are for family and hobbies. 

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  • Posted

    Hi D, yes that would be me. I've now left that group and gone into semi retirement to mend. This is a topic best discussed with GP. But you do need to understand there is a difference between being mistreated and pissed off at work and being clinically depressed. IMHO negative stress consistantly maintained will affect us, and not in a good way. In the simplest way, that's why we sleep and historically why bosses agreed to give workers holidays. I found that I was hyper vigilant ( read this as an unhealthy focus ) and that I could not sleep and there was just no time off. No wonder  I broke. Cheers, D.
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