Signs & symptoms of mental exhaustion

Updated July 19, 2017

Mental exhaustion, also known as burnout, is the result of long-term and excessive stress. People who work long hours in hectic environments are susceptible to mental exhaustion. Others may succumb to the condition due to problems in their personal lives. Those who are burnt out begin to feel empty inside, as if nothing they do makes a difference, according to HelpGuide, a non-profit mental health organisation. In order to recover from this state, one must first recognise there is a mounting problem by recognising the signs and symptoms of mental exhaustion.


Mental exhaustion takes a toll on the body as well as the mind, HelpGuide says. Those who are feeling burnt out will often lose their enthusiasm for life. Every day, the person will feel fatigued and unmotivated. This drained state will often start to negatively affect a person's work and personal relationships.

Immune Problems

Research shows that the immune system can be adversely affected by mental stress. In the 1980's, clinical studies by psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and immunologist Ronald Glaser showed that students who were under stress from exams would suffer from a weakened immune system, according to a February 2006 article from the American Psychological Association. Those who are experiencing mental exhaustion may become sick more often than usual. Even aches and pains may manifest from this prolonged stress.

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep habits are often affected by mental exhaustion, HelpGuide says. Although the word "exhaustion" seems to suggest a person is tired, the condition may actually result in insomnia, which only adds to stress during the day. Others may not feel like rising from bed at all and end up sleeping more than usual.

Low Self Esteem

People who have been under stress for so long that they burnout mentally will often lose faith in their contributions to life. Low self-esteem is common with the mentally exhausted, as is a feeling of defeat, HelpGuide reports. Completed tasks may seem like failures to the person, even if no one else perceives them that way. A feeling of inadequacy only encourages the cycle of exhaustion and hopelessness.


Someone who is suffering from mental exhaustion may start to delay responsibilities or shun them altogether, according to HelpGuide. Even the simplest of tasks may take a very long time to complete, as the person has lost the motivation to work hard.

Self Medication

A healthy outlet is needed when someone becomes overwhelmed with stress. However, those with mental exhaustion often seek unhealthy outlets and begin to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs or food, HealthGuide reports. Overindulging in short-term comforts is a common sign that someone is suffering from mental problems.

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About the Author

Amy Simpson is a copywriter, editor and blogger. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Texas at Arlington and has specialized in new media writing for more than a decade. Simpson has written and edited content for outlets such as 4Kids Entertainment, Discovery Channel, FOX Television and MSN.