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Stress vs. Burnout: What’s the difference?

By Dr. Craig Dike

In this day and age stress surrounds us. It comes at us from all angles: work, home, family, and our physical health. Each of us have developed various ways to cope with stress so that we can overcome such challenges. But what is too much stress and what does it create in us? You’ve heard co-workers or even yourself saying it, “I’m burnt out!”

The line between stress and burnout is a blurred one, and it’s often difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. Burnout is the accumulation of unchecked and built up stress over a period of time. Think of burnout as the larger, meaner, older brother of stress. It requires stress to exist, but you can have stress without being burnt out. So how do you know the difference? Here are a few key signs.

Stress and fatigue are a daily experience for most. With stress there is an end in sight, but getting there may be difficult. Burnout on the other hand is a cycle of negative emotions and withdrawal that result from investing too much into something emotionally, intellectually, or physically without doing anything to restore yourself.

Experiencing large amounts of stress is often enough of a reason for folks to seek out the assistance from a psychologist. However, with burnout it is imperative to seek out professional help as its main symptoms encourage further and further isolation and withdrawal, potentially to the point of depression. Whether you’re stressed, fatigued, or burnt out, a psychologist like myself can help you overcome your challenges.

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dr-craig-dikeDr. Craig Dike earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana. He completed his internship training at the Texas State University Counseling Center and his post-doctoral training at San Diego VA specializing in psychiatric rehabilitation and evidence based interventions for severe mental illness. His theoretical orientation is primarily cognitive-behavioral with third-wave influences. He is skilled in the application of empirically-supported group and individual treatments for anxiety, mood, and psychotic disorders. Dr. Dike has clinical and research interests in: metacognition, meditation, behavioral/functional genomics, biopsychosocial models of psychosis, recovery oriented interventions, neurobiology of psychological change, exposure based treatments for anxiety disorders, and CBT for psychosis. In his free time Dr. Dike enjoys spending time with his children, family and friends, traveling, listening to music, hiking and enjoying nature, discovering great local restaurants, and watching his favorite sports of American and English football.