Burnout is generally characterized by a certain lack of energy and/or emotional exhaustion. It also may include a degree of job dissatisfaction, increased work absenteeism, and poor job performance. Those who suffer from burnout may also be seen to have essentially negative attitudes, a greater tendency to become ill (i.e. lowered immune system function, which means they may have some degree of depression), and a penchant for isolating themselves.

People who have any or all of these symptoms sometimes have a hard time dealing with the demands of daily life and often feel overwhelmed. When they suffer from low energy, they may be more unable to manage stress, have a difficult time getting to sleep, and have many somatic complaints.

In addition, they are not always in control of their emotions and/or related actions, and may have a hard time recognizing this or learning from mistakes that they make. Often, they have a hard time feeling compassion or respect for others and can feel alienated and alone.