What Is Emotional Exhaustion? Dr Matthew Cullen

emotional exhaustion
If you identify as being emotionally exhausted talk to someone who’s supportive, a psychologist or a friend or family. Exercise, don’t drink alcohol excessively, get plenty of sleep, and work on a plan to address the stress that’s causing emotional exhaustion.

Emotional exhaustion is pretty well as the name described, i.e. being under significant emotional pressure and then feeling physically or mentally exhausted. So to add more colour to that, the sort of stress that usually causes emotional exhaustion is family stress, work-related pressures, being under financial stress, any sort of major continuous stressor in people’s lives, could include relationship pressures.

When they continue for weeks and months on end, someone starts to talk about feeling emotionally exhausted. So when you delve into what is emotional exhaustion, there are some characteristic symptoms that the people who have emotional exhaustion describe. They feel irritable, they’re not sleeping well, depressed, lack of energy, lack of motivation, lack of drive, at times feeling anxious and on edge. That’s a constellation of a mixture of irritability, depression, anxiety, constitutes emotional exhaustion. So what does one do about it?

Well, the first thing is to recognise it. If you don’t recognise it, you can’t do anything about it. Secondly, once you recognise you are emotionally exhausted, try to find out what the trigger is. Is it the sorts of things we talked about at the beginning around what are the typical stressors? And then finally, when you have identified the cause, if you can alleviate the cause or the trigger, work on that. On top of all of that, it’s really important to also do things that are gonna be helpful with emotional exhaustion. And many of them are very simple, common sense.

Talk to someone who’s supportive, a psychologist or a friend or family. Exercise, don’t drink alcohol excessively, get plenty of sleep, and work on a plan to address the stress that’s causing emotional exhaustion.

Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

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