El síndrome burnout


Burnout syndrome literally translates as “burned-out worker”. It refers to the chronification of work stress that includes chronic physical and mental fatigue, alteration of personality and self-esteem, even leading to ineffectiveness at work and the inability to perform professional tasks.

This syndrome refers exclusively to the attitude in work performance and must be differentiated from clinical depression that affects other areas of life. Burnout syndrome does not happen from one day to the next. It is a process in which the worker progressively suffers a loss of interest in the functions he or she performs, feeling demotivation, exhaustion, depersonalization and an increased negative psychological reaction to his or her job.

The main difference between stress and burnout syndrome, as explained by the professor of the Master of Occupational Risk Prevention of the UNIR, is that stress is often positive because, sometimes, it allows us to be more effective, to react quickly, to perform better, etc. In contrast, burnout syndrome is always negative. Normally, the origin usually lies in excessive demands caused by a mismatch between the demand for work and a person’s actual capabilities and resources.


The term burnout syndrome appeared in the world literature in the mid-1970s. It was in 1974 when the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, who was working as a volunteer in a New York clinic for drug addicts, noticed that after one to three years the attitude of most volunteers changed.

Like him, all people started with enthusiasm and excitement, but after a while, they experienced a progressive loss of energy and demotivation. They felt a lack of interest in what they were doing, they even felt that their work was meaningless, and they became exhausted, anxious and depressed.

Freudenberger called it burnout syndrome and since then, the research sector has provided information about the concept, detailing and adding more information about it. Since then and to date, there are many reports of the syndrome and research in this field is very extensive. 


Bad organization
Very long working hours that prevent work-life balance
Suffering a lot of pressure
Prolonged bad working environment
Work monotony
Lack of job expectations
Feeling of isolation in the workplace
Being a victim of workplace harassment
Very high personal expectations
Personal characteristics


Physical exhaustion 

With symptoms such as chronic fatigue, loss of appetite or anxiety about eating, muscle aches, intestinal problems, headaches and migraines, skin problems, etc. 

Mental exhaustion 

Stress and anxiety are the most frequent symptoms of burnout syndrome and the syndrome itself increases them. As a result, depression or insomnia can go hand in hand with mental exhaustion. 


The feeling of not being efficient and not doing the tasks well, end up creating a general dissatisfaction and demotivation, generating enormous frustration because the person does not feel fulfilled in their work.

Decrease in labor productivity 

Burnout syndrome causes the sufferer to be unable to concentrate, causing constant forgetfulness and leading to generalized neglect. For this reason, a vicious circle is generated in which the person does not manage to return to being as productive as before and this makes him/her suffer. 


The worker with burnout syndrome changes his or her behavior and personality. Apathy, detachment and irritability cause them not to feel a commitment neither with their company nor with the team, seriously affecting the work environment.

In addition to these five symptoms, low self-esteem, little or no personal fulfillment, constant nervousness, aggressiveness, boredom, even tachycardia or difficulty in communicating are very frequent manifestations of this syndrome.


Prevention is the best cure and the best way to avoid it, according to psychologist Harry Levinson. Some tips to reduce the risk of suffering from burnout syndrome are: 

  • Respect the work schedule. Enter and leave on time. 
  • Once you leave work, clear your mind of work duties. 
  • Be aware of your capabilities and know how to delegate.
  • Set aside time for yourself.
  • Take care of the spaces reserved for the people you love. 
  • Knowing how to disconnect from technological devices.
  • Communicating with the environment and being a good listener.