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Range of treatments: Burnout

Burnout can affect anyone. However, people who are in the public eye, those who are very performance-oriented and people who make lots of sacrifices in order to care for others are at increased risk.

Many famous personalities know exactly what burnout feels like. Robbie Williams had to cancel his Asian tour in 2006 due to burnout. Actor and mother of six Angelina Jolie completely broke down during filming in 2010…

The list of celebrities with burnout syndrome is long. Among them are stars like Mariah Carey, ski jumper Sven Hannawald, actor Renée Zellweger, celebrity chef Tim Mälzer and many more.


What exactly is burnout?

Burnout – literally “being burnt out” – is understood to be chronic physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, combined with reduced performance capacity, which can be traced back to a previous long-term overload.

The most important trigger is chronic stress that cannot be brought under control. The brain is disturbed by the constant overload, leading to an imbalance of serotonin adrenaline and dopamine which affects the transmission of information between the nerve cells. This in turn leads to changes in drive, appetite and sleep as well as in feelings and thoughts.


Burnout: Important indications

Exhaustion syndrome


The term “burnout” is still comparatively new and was coined in the 1970s by American psychotherapist Herbert Freudenberger. In addition to his full-time work as a psychotherapist, Freudenberger also ran a clinic for drug-addicted street children and fell ill with burnout himself due to the chronic overload of working 12 to 14 hours a day.

With the help of analytical self-observation and observation of staff and colleagues in the clinic, he defined burnout as a consequence of heavy stress in social professions (i.e. among doctors, nurses, social workers, etc.), which is characterised by three essential elements:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Cynicism and depersonalisation (in the form of a negative attitude towards work and colleagues)
  • Reduced professional performance


Is burnout considered a disease in its own right?

The term burnout originates from occupational medicine, but is generally defined much more broadly today. It is still primarily defined as a consequence of a permanently excessive workload. However, today it is assumed that burnout syndrome can occur not only in typical social professions but also in all occupational fields and other areas of life.

However, since the symptoms of burnout can vary greatly from person to person, and they are very similar to the symptoms of certain other mental illnesses, such as depression or adjustment disorder, it is extremely difficult to make a precise distinction.

The World Health Organization (WHO) therefore didn’t list burnout as a separate illness in its ICD-10 catalogue, which has been in existence since the 1990s. Instead, they defined it vaguely as “problems related to difficulties in coping with life”. With the introduction of the new ICD-11 in 2022, this will change and burnout will then be listed as an independent disease – albeit with a strong reference to the world of work – under the designation “stress at work that cannot be successfully dealt with”.


Burnout symptoms: How does burnout manifest itself?

Burnout never occurs suddenly overnight; it develops slowly and insidiously as a process. Many months or years can pass from the first signs to a complete breakdown.

In 2000, German psychologist and burnout expert Professor Matthias Burisch identified seven typical burnout stages. The different phases can vary in length, intensity and order and often occur concurrently before merging.

Each phase is characterised by different behaviours and symptoms, many of which go under the radar or are stubbornly ignored:


  • Burnout Stage 1: Ambition and commitment

In the first burnout phase, those affected show a great deal of ambition, dedication and commitment. They work above average, do unpaid overtime and often have the feeling of being indispensable. In the process, they disregard and deny their own needs.

It is typical in this phase that those affected struggle to switch off. As a result, there is an increasing feeling of exhaustion.


  • Burnout Stage 2: Reduced output and withdrawal

The initial enthusiasm eventually turns into an attitude of entitlement, where those concerned expect something in return for their efforts. If this is not the case, frustration and cynicism will spread.

Typical of this phase is a strong reluctance to work, with excessive breaks and frequent absences. Often only the bare minimum is done. In addition, so-called depersonalisation occurs, in which empathy for other people increasingly dwindles. This becomes apparent towards colleagues and customers, but also socially and with the family, whose needs are increasingly no longer considered.


  • Burnout Stage 3: Assigning blame, with aggression or negativity

In the third burnout phase, disillusionment often spreads when it is realised that goals cannot be achieved. In reaction to this dissatisfaction, there is often blaming. Depending on the personality, the environment (the exploitative company, the evil boss, etc.) or oneself is blamed.

Typical for this phase are either depressive-anxious feelings of helplessness, self-deprecation, fear and self-pity or aggression, irritability, conflict seeking, constant nagging and negativity.


  • Burnout Stage 4: Deteriorating performance

The decline in motivation leads to a reduction in performance in almost all areas.

Typical of this phase are difficulties in concentrating, inability to make decisions, reduced imagination and creativity, strong black-and-white thinking, inflexibility and rejection of change.


  • Burnout Stage 5: Deterioration in emotional and social life

This is followed by an emotional withdrawal with a feeling of increasing lack of interest, indifference and boredom.

Typical of this phase is withdrawal from friends and family, the abandonment of previously loved hobbies and a shift towards selfishness.


  • Burnout Stage 6 of burnout: Psychosomatic reactions

Burnout syndrome is always accompanied by a variety of physical complaints that are psychosomatically caused. In the beginning, the complaints are often only mild or appear sporadically. They often go largely ignored or made less noticeable with medication and drugs. In advanced stages, however, the psychosomatic consequences of the psychological stress continue to increase in number and severity, so that at some point they become unmistakable.

Typical for this stage are:

  • Back pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sleep problems
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Muscle tension
  • Major weight loss or gain due to changes in eating habits
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Indigestion and stomach pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Sweating
  • Sexual problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Susceptibility to infections
  • Allergies and autoimmune diseases
  • Respiratory problems and asthma
  • Heavy consumption of nicotine, alcohol, medication and drugs (or addiction)


  • Burnout Stage 7 of burnout: Breakdown and despair

In the final burnout phase, there is a complete breakdown on an emotional, physical and mental level.

Typical for this phase are feelings of total helplessness, despair and suicidal thoughts.


Common causes of burnout

The causes of burnout vary greatly from person to person and always depend on several factors. On the one hand, they always include external factors such as high demands and stresses, as well as a lack of support. On the other hand, internal factors or personality traits also contribute. These may be factors such as individual resilience and ability or otherwise to deal with stress. Accordingly, every person reacts differently.

Stresses that one person can cope with can be completely overwhelming for another. The risk of burnout therefore has a lot to do with one’s own personality structure. Perfectionists who strive for recognition are particularly at risk, as are idealists and self-sacrificing helpers who cannot say “no”.

The following triggers can lead to a person being permanently overworked and therefore susceptible to burnout.

External risk factors
  • Heavy workload
  • High deadline pressure
  • Great responsibility
  • Constant availability
  • Chronic stress
  • Caring for a relative
  • Multiple stresses (work and family)
  • Little self-determination and control
  • Little positive feedback
  • Lack of success
  • Changing targets
  • Conflicts with colleagues and superiors
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of support
  • Threat of job loss
  • Conflicting values
  • High external expectations
  • Little or no support
  • Little compensation and recreation


Internal risk factors
  • High expectations of oneself
  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive goals
  • Strong desire for recognition and affirmation
  • Fear of failure
  • Low self-esteem
  • Need to prove oneself
  • Desire to please everyone
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • High ambition
  • Difficulty in saying “no”
  • Strong idealism
  • Identification with the profession
  • Overestimation of own abilities
  • Mistrust of others
  • Problems delegating tasks
  • Previous traumas
  • Stressful experience of pregnancy


Frequent secondary problems associated with burnout

As a consequence of or in addition to burnout, a number of other serious illnesses can occur.

These include, on the one hand, mental illnesses such as:



Adjustment disorder

Anxiety disorder

Eating disorders

Addictive disorders

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Personality disorder


But also psychosomatic physical secondary afflictions, such as:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Allergies
  • Tinnitus
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Hearing loss
  • Migraine
  • Infertility
  • Back pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gastritis
  • Impotence and loss of libido


Burnout therapy: how is stress disorder treated?

As with all progressive diseases, burnout should be treated as early as possible. As soon as the first signs of burnout appear, such as increasing exhaustion and the feeling of no longer being able to switch off, it is high time to take action.

However, a typical feature of the disease is that those affected are often no longer able to feel themselves. Even clear symptoms are therefore often ignored or covered up by drugs and medicine. It’s not uncommon for those affected to seek help only when the illness is already far advanced, the symptoms are obvious or a complete breakdown has occurred.

In these late phases of burnout, a comprehensive treatment is usually necessary on several levels. This is because in addition to the psychological and physical complaints of burnout, secondary illnesses often have to be treated as well. A standard therapy is of little help here.


The CALDA Concept: Let us help you!


The CALDA Clinic therefore offers you an individually tailored one-on-one therapy in line with the CALDA Concept. This is a tailor-made and highly effective holistic precision therapy which uses scientifically founded methods from classical medicine combined with proven healing methods from complementary medicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and orthomolecular medicine.


Treatment using the CALDA Concept works very effectively on different levels and is extremely solution-oriented. As a result, quite amazing results can be achieved within a short time – and usually without the use of medication.


We help you to recover mentally and to regenerate your body. This gives you the opportunity to quickly return to your original self and regain your zest for life. In addition, you will learn to set limits and to protect yourself from burnout again.


The CALDA Concept

Our guiding principles and our promise to you:

We treat the causes, not the symptoms

Whenever possible, we work without psychotropic drugs

We dedicate our time and our entire know-how exclusively to one client


The CALDA Concept: The basis of every therapy is a comprehensive and extremely detailed diagnosis

Only in this way can the underlying causes and disease correlations, which otherwise often remain hidden, be meticulously revealed and specifically treated.


The CALDA Concept: Our expertise for your health!

You can read all about all the advantages of the CALDA Concept here.

In addition, you can find detailed information about the various CALDA Clinic programs here.


If you have a number of complaints that have arisen because of chronic stress, we recommend that you participate in the CALDA Full Program.