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CW: Suicidal ideation 

When I began my senior year of college, I took on a lot of responsibilities. The stress of school, sports, work, friendships, and life became overwhelming. I quickly began to develop academic burnout. Instead of slowing down, I continued pushing until burnout led to depression. 

It can be hard to tell the difference between burnout and depression. Both can impact your physical and emotional health, according to PsychCentral. When you find yourself mentally and physically exhausted from pinpointed stressors such as work, school, or family, you could be experiencing burnout.  

The symptoms of burnout can be similar to other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. When experiencing burnout, it is common to feel restless, nauseous, and/or exhausted. Some experience insomnia, have trouble thinking, and more. 

In the moment, it was hard to understand what was happening to me mentally and physically. The symptoms of burnout were piling up and I continued to ignore them until depression came along. When I was diagnosed with depression, my symptoms progressed and included hopelessness, suicidal ideation, fatigue, and numbness. 

Looking back, I now recognize the many signs of burnout I ignored. I continued telling myself it was just stress from school and that I would get through it like I always did. Yet deep down, I knew that this time was different. The mental and physical symptoms I was dealing with were new and scary. I should have sought help immediately. My greatest regret is that I was too scared to take a break and ask for help. 

My mind and body were giving me warning signals that something was wrong and I chose to ignore them until I couldn’t anymore. While I don’t blame myself for how I handled burnout, I wish that I was more willing to create boundaries and get help. I learned that asking for help early never hurts, but waiting can. 

When I finally reached out for help, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I struggled to do basic tasks without breaking into tears and hardly had enough energy to get out of bed. I was told that I was suffering from severe situational depression, meaning my depression was caused by ongoing stress and burnout. My depression was inherently tied to the stress of school and the responsibilities I had taken on. 

When I was struggling with burnout, I wish I had implemented self-care strategies and stopped saying yes to everything. Although it’s difficult to break old habits and allow yourself to rest, it’s vital to healing. Pushing past feelings of burnout can lead to depression symptoms or other mental health condition symptoms. 

If you suspect you are struggling with burnout, it’s important to seek help early. In addition, you can start by pinpointing the stressors in your life. According to Psychology Today, you should see what small and easy improvements you can make to your routine. An example would be taking a break from your computer on your lunch break to allow yourself to recharge. Next, you can delegate tasks to others and recognize that you don’t have to do everything alone.

It is easy to become burnt out from school, work, and family if it’s all-encompassing. It’s important to schedule time for the activities you enjoy and allow yourself to truly rest. Although it can be scary to make lifestyle changes when dealing with burnout, it can help in preventing depression and other mental health conditions. Next time I begin feeling the symptoms of burnout, I will be quick to advocate for myself and reach out for help.

Works Cited 

Hendriksen, Ellen. “7 Ways to Recover from Burnout.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 10 May 2021, Accessed 24 July 2023.

Mandriota, Morgan. “Burnout vs. Depression: What’s the Difference?” Psych Central, 17 Feb. 2022, Accessed 23 July 2023. 


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