Burn-Out and PTSD

Exhausted, burnt out, stressed out - is it still normal or already a burnout? 

Depression is not always a disease in its own right, but can also occur in the context of other mental disorders such as burnout syndrome or post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Stressful life circumstances can put extreme strain on people - to a point where they feel: I can't take it anymore, I'm exhausted, empty and burnt out.  

Reacting to stress with exhaustion is not initially pathological. Burnout thus describes a symptom that goes beyond the normal feeling of stress.2 But how does it differ from other mental illnesses?

In contrast to depression, burnout does not focus on sadness, but on exhaustion, dissatisfaction and indifference. Typically, in contrast to depression, symptoms worsen toward evening and improve during periods of rest or vacation. With increasing severity, however, burnout can also develop into depression.

The mental problems also trigger physical (psychosomatic) complaints. The physical defense system can become weaker and more susceptible to infections. Sleep disturbances, nightmares and sexual problems may develop. Heart palpitations, headaches, digestive disorders, back pain, dizziness, breathing problems or weight changes are also possible. In addition, the risk of accidents and addiction are increased. Affected persons are more likely to turn to alcohol, tobacco or other drugs in this situation.4

Also the Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should also be mentioned here, which is characterized by anxiety with depressive mood. It develops as a result of an extremely stressful or threatening experience (trauma). This can be an experience of war, a natural disaster, a serious accident, the death of a close relative, sexual abuse or other experiences of violence.

Not only those directly affected, but also witnesses of traumatic events can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Typical for a PTSD are so-called Flashbacks. Das sind plötzlich auftretende, extrem belastende Erinnerungsfragmente, in denen die Betroffenen die traumatische Erfahrung immer neu durchleben. Ausgelöst werden Flashbacks beispielsweise von Geräuschen, Gerüchen oder bestimmten Worten, die eng mit dem traumatischen Erlebnis verknüpft sind. Um diesen Reizen auszuweichen, ziehen sich viele traumatisierte Menschen zurück. Sie sind hochgradig nervös und reizbar, leiden unter Schlaf- und Konzentrationsstörungen, wirken jedoch zugleich zunehmend emotionslos.5

Both burnout syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder require specialist treatment that takes into account the very different symptoms experienced by each individual.  

Surprisingly, experts do not even agree on what burnout actually is. This has consequences: Since it is unclear what exactly constitutes burnout and how it can be detected, it is also impossible to say exactly how often it occurs.