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The benefit of WHO recognizing burn-out as a condition

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Those suffering from occupational exhaustion can take comfort in this new definition.

The stress of daily life leaves many of us feeling worn out and unable to function adequately. Some of us might feel that we’ve reached burn-out, a term coined back in the 1970s by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger to describe the impact of stressful working conditions in heath care professions. Nowadays the term has become increasingly popular as the effects of stress and exhaustion are experiences in people who work in many different professions and capacities.

It’s been difficult to pinpoint exactly what burn-out is, but recently the World Health Organization finally recognized it as a condition in its handbook ICD-11, which should make it easier to recognize and treat. Here’s how WHO defines it:

Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.

What’s really beneficial about this acknowledgment is that not only are we now more informed about the debilitating effects of burn-out, we know what to look out for in our loved ones who don’t seem to be feeling any better after a relaxing weekend or vacation. It also allows those who are suffering from the condition to feel that their symptoms are validated — something that is crucial for a healthy recovery.

 

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