How to Recognize Nurse Burnout

Burnout is all too common in the nursing community, but you may not know for sure if you are feeling burnout. What are the symptoms of this insidious problem?

Actually, there are many symptoms, and they change depending on the person. For instance, some nurses may turn to alcoholism to cope, but not all nurses do this and not all drinking is a sign of burnout.

That said, there are some relatively universal traits that seem to ride hand in hand with burnout. Again, your mileage may vary, but if you are experiencing these, you may want to take a look at burnout as a cause.


Anger is a prevalent sign of burnout. If you are angry at everything including your home life, you may be in throes of some form of burnout.

This generally arises from a feeling of helplessness. You can’t do anything about the problems that are causing you to feel burnt out, and so your lash out the only way you know how: with anger.

Again, not all anger is burn out. Some anger is righteous.

But if your find yourself disproportionately angry with everyone and everything you may have a problem. Anger is generally an emotion that is trying to tell you something about yourself, your life, or your situation.


You dread going to work, waking up in the morning, seeing patients, and just about anything you can think of. Once again, dread goes back to a feeling of helplessness.

If you feel like you can’t control your situation, then you don’t want to go into it and face the horror that you know is coming. This is why burnt out nurses call off so much.

Who wants to go into a situation that they dread will be horrifying? If you find yourself shying away from work – or even other aspects of your life – you may be experiencing burnout, and you should look into getting it treated before it ruins your career.


Unfortunately, apathy is another insidious form of burnout that just sneaks up on you. Somehow, someway, you just stop caring.

It isn’t that you don’t care about patients. You still do care about patients, but you generally don’t care about much else.

Apathy in burnout is a feeling of emptiness that extends to most things in your life. You feel like you are already dead, and you just don’t care what happens to you.

This is particularly scary because it skirts that boundaries of mental illness. If you are feeling apathetic, you probably see a therapist and get it check out.

Helplessness fuels this feeling of not caring. Why care when there is nothing you can do?

It is nihilistic and dark. If you just don’t care anymore, you are probably severely burnt out and need to seek help immediately.


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