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Comparing Stress and Burnout

by Dr. Sidney Langston

Stress: The non-specific response of the body to any demand.


•Characterized by over-engagement.

  •Emotions are over-reactive.

    •Physical damage is primary.

      •Exhaustion affects physical energy.

        •Produces disintegration.

          •Best understood as a loss of energy.

            •Depression of stress is produced by the body’s need to protect itself and conserve energy.

              •Produces a sense of urgency and hyperactivity.

                 •Produces panic, phobia and anxiety type disorders.

                      •Can kill you prematurely and you won’t have time to finish what you start.


Burnout: A syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who invest too much of themselves into their work, especially if it is "people work". 


•Characterized by disengagement.

  •Emotions are blunted.

     •Emotional damage is primary.

        •Exhaustion affects motivation and drive.

           •Produces demoralization.

              •Best understood as a loss of hope and ideals.

                 •Depression of burnout is caused by the grief engendered by the loss of hope and ideals.

                    •Produces a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.

                       •Produces paranoia, depersonalization and detachment.

                          •Can’t kill you, but your long life may not seem worth living.

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