How Burnout Can Cause Mood Swings

Apr 28, 2021

Dr. Ashley Margeson, ND

Dr. Ashley Margeson, ND


Burnout is an intense and confusing phenomenon that encompasses many different symptoms. One of the most often missed symptom is a change in mood. We normally chalk it up to being tired, not having slept well, being overwhelmed or being “pre period”. Not withstanding that those circumstances can lead to a change in our moods, burnout hits in a slightly different way.

That burnout way? Emotional Exhaustion.

When people experience emotional exhaustion, it can make you feel emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and fatigued. These feelings tend to build up over a long period, though people may not notice the early warning signs. Typically, emotional exhaustion occurs if someone feels overwhelmed by factors in their life. You may believe you have a lack of control over your life or you may not be correctly balancing self-care with life’s demands.

How does emotional exhaustion affect our moods?

You might start to notice that you are feeling more cynical or pessimistic than usual. Then, you can lose your motivation to work, socialize or perform simple tasks. You can also experience brain fog, which makes it more difficult to concentrate and easier to forget things. These cognitive changes can be especially challenging when someone is trying to juggle stressful situations (including work pressure or emotionally demanding tasks).

See the pattern here?

The more emotional exhaustion you experience, the worse the burnout gets, which means that there is more emotional exhaustion. The goal? Change the pattern.


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