How Long To Recover From Burnout

how long to recover from burnout

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Burnout?

It can take a while to recover from burnout. However, it really depends on the person’s situation.

Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to stressors at work or home.

It’s characterized by being overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, guilty, hopeless, worthless, and helpless.

In addition, burnout is defined as a psychological syndrome that occurs when employees experience prolonged emotional exhaustion, which causes them to lose all enthusiasm for their work.

When someone experiences burnout, they may have difficulty concentrating or completing tasks effectively and become irritable and/or aggressive. They may also feel depressed.

Burnout is different from being tired at the end of a busy week.

It’s not about simply having too much on your plate.

The symptoms of burnout are similar to anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

People who suffer from GAD feel nervous, tense, and anxious about everyday things like driving in heavy traffic.

In addition, they can get anxious taking public transportation, using elevators, standing in line, speaking with strangers, and other situations without escape.

However, unlike people who suffer from GAD, individuals who suffer from burnout tend to act in ways that reflect an inability to control anxiety.

For example, some people suffering from burnout will go into these situations rather than avoid places where they might be exposed to risk.

They believe that any effort to prevent risk exposure will worsen their problem.

Furthermore, if someone suffers from burnout, their behavior tends to be more erratic and unpredictable than expected.

Burnout is a common issue faced by many professionals. If you’re feeling burnt out, you might want to consider taking some time off.

But how long should you take before returning to work?

It’s essential to recognize the signs of burnout early on. The sooner you seek help, the better.

Burnout can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

The symptoms of burnout include:

  • Feeling mentally exhausted
  • Physical discomfort (headaches, stomach aches)
  • Frequent mood changes (from happy to sad)
  • Feeling emotionally drained
  • Being overworked
  • Being unable to concentrate
  • Decreased interest in your job
  • Loss of motivation
  • Depression

It’s not unusual for people who have been working as therapists for years to feel burned out.

Many therapists struggle with burnout for an extended period after completing their training and becoming licensed. “Bridging the Mind-Body Gap with Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing” discusses the challenges faced by mental health professionals and ways to bridge these gaps.

What Causes Burnout in Therapists

Therapists face many stresses during their careers. Some of these factors include:

  • High caseloads
  • Long hours with little support
  • Poor reimbursement rates
  • Stressful clients
  • Having too much responsibility
  • Unreasonable expectations from supervisors
  • Personal problems with colleagues
  • A shortage of qualified therapists

How Long Should You Take Off from Work Before Returning

How Long Should You Take Off From Work Before Returning?

If you’ve just completed a training program, it’s perfectly normal to experience burnout.

However, if this happens more than once, it could be because you’re struggling with chronic issues like depression or anxiety.

The best way to overcome burnout is to get professional help.

The American Psychological Association recommends seeking treatment within 12 months of noticing warning signs of burnout.

When to Seek Help

There are three main types of therapy that may help you deal with burnout.

They are individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Unfortunately, all of them require a great deal of commitment.

While there isn’t a specific amount of time you need to take off from work, most professionals suggest that you give yourself about six months of recovery time.

This is usually enough time to heal completely.

However, if you still don’t feel ready to return to work, it’s okay to stay away longer.

In addition, therapists recommend giving yourself extra time when you start back up again.

Recovering from Burnout After Six Months

After taking time off from work for several months, it is essential to start seeing a therapist.

If you wait too long to begin therapy, the chances of recovery will decrease significantly.

If you decide to see a counselor, make sure you choose someone who specializes in treating burnout.

A general mental health provider won’t necessarily provide effective treatment for your problem.

Once you’ve begun counseling sessions, your goal is to slowly build back up your energy level.

Don’t try to do everything at once. Instead, focus on one thing each week and allow yourself time to rest.

Remember, it’s never too late to seek help. While some therapists only accept new patients after they complete two years of clinical practice, others welcome anyone anytime.

So what can you do now to prevent burnout

  • Learn how to manage your time better. Get organized and prioritize.
  • Get professional help. Find someone who specializes in treating burnout.
  • Make sure you have enough support. Join a group of like-minded professionals.
  • Don’t forget about yourself. Make sufficient rest time part of your routine.

You shouldn’t have to worry about being mistreated by coworkers, bosses, or clients.

It’s important to remember that everyone has issues and struggles throughout their life.

As long as you’re honest with your employer (and your therapist), no one else should have any reason to doubt your ability to perform your job.

Burnout Is Usually Caused By Too Much Workload Or Stressful Situations

When you’re feeling burnt out, it’s essential to get professional help. First, talk to your boss or human resources department if you’re struggling with a high workload.

They’ll be able to help you determine whether additional employees will be needed to meet internal targets.

If you find yourself constantly struggling with stressful situations, try taking a few minutes each day to relax.

For example, read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, etc.

Get Help From Someone Who Can Give You The Guidance And Advice You Need

As mentioned earlier, it’s always good to speak up if you think you’re experiencing burnout.

There are plenty of counselors and therapists specializing in helping people deal with workplace issues.

They may offer counseling services, workshops, coaching sessions, and other types of support.

In addition to providing guidance, these professionals may also provide helpful tips on coping with difficult situations.

These experts can help you determine what type of treatment would benefit you best.


A doctor should diagnose your specific problem and then prescribe suitable medication to treat it.

For example, while antidepressants can help ease symptoms of depression, they aren’t usually recommended for treating anxiety disorders.

Antidepressants aren’t typically effective at alleviating anxiety unless the underlying issue has already been diagnosed as a full-blown disorder.

The reason antidepressants aren’t very effective at treating anxiety is that they only affect serotonin levels.

Serotonin is known to play an essential role in mood regulation, but it doesn’t always directly affect anxiety.

Therefore, if you suffer from depression and anxiety, you should consider combining antidepressants with antianxiety medications.

Not all antidepressants have the same side effects. For example, some patients experience headaches, nausea, weight gain, dry mouth, and so forth.

However, some antidepressants tend to cause more severe problems than others.

For instance, SSRIs such as Prozac and Zoloft can cause low blood pressure, stomach cramps, dizziness, constipation, vomiting, fainting spells, suicidal thoughts, sexual dysfunction, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Therapy Options

There are several therapy options, depending on the type of depression you’re experiencing.

Therapy Options

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy aims to help you understand why you feel the way you do and then use that information to change your behavior.

Unfortunately, although this kind of treatment may be helpful if emotional issues predate your diagnosis, most studies haven’t shown much success when treating postpartum depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT aims to improve your ability to cope with stressful events by helping you identify and challenge irrational beliefs. One of the best parts of CBT is that it doesn’t require spending hours in therapy sessions.

Instead, you simply work one-on-one with a therapist during short weekly appointments.


EMDR is an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing technique used to address trauma.

Studies have found it effective at reducing the frequency and intensity of nightmares, flashbacks, and other disturbing images.


DBT is a group counseling program designed to reduce anxiety and promote healthier relationships.

DBT combines talk therapy, exercise, and behavioral modification techniques to help you manage emotions better.


This mind/body practice focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, sensations, and emotions while practicing simple breathing exercises.

As you may know, mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere.

This means you don’t need to go to a particular class or spend a lot of money.

In fact, there are thousands of apps available online for free. For example, you can download Headspace (an app for Android).

You can also purchase a book like Mindfulness For Dummies.

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

People who struggle with depression often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Common ways to deal with stress include smoking, drinking alcohol, overeating, and even abusing drugs.

These habits could potentially worsen your mood, which leads to further problems down the road.

If you’re having trouble abusing drugs, try taking up meditation instead.

Meditation helps you focus on the present moment without being pulled back into memories.

You might not believe this, but meditation does wonders for your brain!

Final Thoughts

Burnout is one of those things where everyone knows about it – but not many people talk about it openly.

But it’s never too late to start talking about your situation and seek professional help.

Start by asking yourself: Am I overworked? Do I dread my job? Is work stressing me out? Don’t wait until it gets worse before taking action.

Start now!

About our Author Michelle Landeros, LMFT license# 115130
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT

Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.

Last updated: February 28, 2024