I recently reached out to my colleague, Mollie Yates of Horizon View Functional Therapy, to write a short blog article on “What is Burnout.” Thank you, Mollie, and please go and check her out.
The World Health Organization (Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases (who.int)) defines burnout as an occupational phenomenon resulting from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” But in the United States, where a job is often linked to identity and practically the source of access to health care, burnout can mean so much more. Add neurodivergence, such as ADHD, onto those pressures, and you can end up in a very difficult place. Work that does not adequately stimulate interest, or worse, has become boring, can make completing work tasks with ADHD feel insurmountable.
A New York Times article (Work Burnout: How to Spot Symptoms and What to Do – The New York Times (nytimes.com)) points out that “In a 2021 survey of 1,500 U.S. workers, more than half said they were feeling burned out as a result of their job demands.” In December of 2021, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in what has come to be known as the “great resignation.” A 2022 study of over 3,000 tech professionals in 33 countries performed by yerbo.co, creators of the Burnout Index, identified exhaustion, self-inefficacy, cynicism, and depersonalization as the top four symptoms of burnout. Overall, 2 in 5 of the workers surveyed showed a high risk of burnout. This phenomenon of burnout is not limited to tech – navigating through Covid has left many professionals, such as those working in healthcare and social services, feeling overwhelmed and like the career they carefully chose is no longer fulfilling, or worse, is making them ill.
How do you know if you are experiencing burnout? Insomnia, nightmares, exhaustion, eating more or less than usual, stomachaches, headaches, and symptoms of anxiety and depression may all present. But what burnout feels like varies from person to person. Some people may feel numb and start talking less, even to friends and family not associated with work. Some people may become jittery and irritable, having more noticeable or extreme reactions to situations that they previously would have taken in stride. Others may feel shut down and like every task or interaction is a bother, even ones that used to feel meaningful. People with ADHD may feel that symptoms get worse, or that the effort on managing symptoms becomes much greater, when experiencing burnout.
Do you suspect you are experiencing burnout? Asking for help may seem like adding one more thing to your list – but can make a world of difference. Working with an ADHD coach or an occupational therapist can help you gain skills and strategies to make the most of your unique brain and climb out of the burnout. Contact horizonviewft.com for more information about occupational therapy for adults with ADHD.