According to one senior software engineer it's a "geek thing" -- sleeping in the office, physical exhaustion, mental stress.
The software engineer, who now lives in the UK, knows firsthand about the impact burnout can have on one's life. He moved from London to Cambridge to escape the pressures of a culture that saw him working longer and longer hours on software projects whose schedules had overrun.
Like other IT professionals ZDNet Australia spoke to for this story, he wasn't too keen to be quoted verbatim -- there's this idea that, to get ahead, it's not a good idea to be seen as not enjoying the culture.
And while for some the economic downturn may mean fewer late nights, this brings other pressures.
Grant Montgomery, managing director at recruitment consultancy E.L Consult in Australia, said that job security for some has become an even greater stress than job performance.
"There's not the sweat-shop style programming that happened in the new economy boom," Montgomery said. "I don't think IT is quite the 'spend' priority it was two years ago, so I think there's less pressure on IT sections of companies, and therefore IT managers."
But Montgomery said that with IT budget cuts, the fears staff had now are about keeping their jobs.
"I think there was a sense, certainly at the height of the new economy boom, that if you didn't launch a new initiative in a certain time period you would be beaten to the punch," he said. "Now people feel they have much more time to make considered IT development, as opposed to rushing to get to market before anyone else."
One New Zealand IT worker, who has worked in the industry for about 12 years but asked not to be named because of the impact it might have on his career, said it could be a lonely industry. "The IT industry needs to embrace its social value and importance of social interaction and prevent its employees becoming back-roomers stuck away from the light for too long," he said.
He uses the example of code-cutters, "sitting in their cubicles beavering away, perhaps talking to an (often) irate customer or client about ongoing problems they haven't realistic company time to fix."
Tara Daniel, customer relationship manager at local recruitment consultancy IT&T Careers, said there has always been high burnout in the IT industry because it's an intense arena.
Daniel believes the current climate has seen some take the opportunity to move out of IT. "The last few months, given the redundancies, have made a lot of people rethink what they're doing with their careers," she said.
According to Daniel, it was a "Well, nothing's 100 percent secure, so let's look at our options" approach.
But is burnout a risk that those in start-up mode inherently face when working to get an idea off the ground?
Peter Williams, partner in e-business at consulting firm Deloitte Touche, said there can be untold energy in companies at the prototype stage, when there's a drive to make an idea successful.
Williams said that people in such companies live, breathe, eat and sleep their work.
"Those guys are still working day and night and falling asleep at their desks and stuff....While they're successful, they don't burn out. Once you hit the tough times, that's when people question their own self worth."