Burn out, languishing, anxiety, depression explained

“I’m depressed.” “I’m anxious.” “I’m burnt out.” The vocabulary of mental health has seeped into our everyday lives. While some people may use these terms to speak about a specific diagnosis, others use these phrases casually, colloquially, without paying much attention to distinctions. Emotional exhaustion, for example, isn’t a clinical term, but that doesn’t mean the experience of it is any less real.

So what is the best way to describe that feeling you can’t quite put your finger on? Here’s a closer look at what some of the most buzzed-about mental health terms mean and when you should use them.

If you’ve been feeling stressed or overwhelmed about work, you might be experiencing burnout. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a form of job-related stress that has not been successfully managed.

Common symptoms include feelings of energy depletion, cynicism about one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.  Experts recommend cultivating a healthy work-life balance, a robust support system, and a positive outlook to combat burnout.

Emotional exhaustion is not a specific clinical syndrome, but mental health experts say it can lead to, or be accompanied by, other mental health conditions like a major depressive disorder. The phrase is usually used when talking about burnout when feelings about stressors and responsibilities mount to the point that someone feels they don’t have any energy left to expend.

“Emotional exhaustion is this sense of overwhelmingness. Overwhelmed to the point where you feel like you can’t deal anymore,” said Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association. “It’s physical tiredness. It’s mental tiredness. It’s difficult concentrating. It’s all the things that we experience when we’re just at our capacity.”

Experts suggest you set boundaries to combat emotional exhaustion, don’t try to be a superhero, and hone in on what makes you feel good emotionally.

If “burn out” was the unofficial 2020 COVID-era mental health buzzword, “languishing” is its 2021 counterpart. Made famous by a New York Times piece by Wharton psychology professor Adam Grant last month, languishing is “the neglected middle child of mental health,” Grant wrote. “It’s the void between depression and flourishing – the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either.”

Those who find themselves languishing – feeling a lack of focus and a general purgatory between mental wellness and illness – can try to carve out some uninterrupted time to feel better about accomplishing tasks, focus on small joys and victories, and shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for help just because they aren’t dealing with a more severe issue.

You likely understand the concept of loneliness – a sadness that can occur when socially isolated – but have you heard of it alonely?

According to Psychology Today, this is the opposite of loneliness. It’s the dissatisfaction that comes from not spending enough time by yourself. And during the pandemic, when home, school, and office life has been combined in one space, this feeling is becoming more common.

Gemma Broadhurst
Gemma Broadhurst is a 23-year-old computing student who enjoys extreme ironing, hockey and duck herding. She is kind and entertaining, but can also be very standoffish and a bit evil.She is an Australian Christian. She is currently at college. studying computing. She is allergic to milk. She has a severe phobia of chickens

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