Work-place burnout is now officially a recognized mental health concern: What you should know
Burnout — the type of extreme stress or fatigue that can lead to everything from respiratory problems to gastrointestinal issues — is now officially a recognized mental health concern.
The World Health Organization (WHO) included burnout in its International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-11, a diagnostic tool for medical providers.
Burnout, called an “occupational phenomenon” by WHO, is described as “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The guidelines note that burnout is only applicable related to work-induced stress.
The handbook says medical providers can look for these three symptoms when it comes to diagnosing burnout: 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.
The ICD-11 diagnosis guidelines will not go into effect until 2022.
In the U.S., medical providers follow another set of guidelines, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM–5. Burnout is not listed as a diagnosis in DSM-5.
Burnout among millennials was in the spotlight late last year when BuzzFeed reporter Anne Helen Petersen described in an essay how she could excel in her job and some parts of her personal life but felt paralyzed in others.
“I’d put something on my weekly to-do list, and it’d roll over, one week to the next, haunting me for months,” Peterson wrote of what she labeled “errand paralysis.”
“They are seemingly high-effort, low-reward tasks, and they paralyze me,” she wrote.
Signs of burnout can include insomnia, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, apathy, irritability, anxiety and getting sick more often. It can have physical consequences that include everything from respiratory problems to gastrointestinal issues, according to ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.