The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially recognised burnout as a medical diagnosis.
Following an update by the group published at the end of May 2019, the condition now appears in the organisation’s International Classification of Diseases, or the ICD-11, in the section on problems related to employment or unemployment.
“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” the WHO said.
“(It) refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life”.
It is characterised 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;
- Reduced professional efficacy.
Signs that you are being impacted
According toenior research fellow at the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute, the new definition of burnout should be a wake-up call for employers to treat chronic stress that has not been successfully managed as a work health and safety issue.
“In the era of smartphones and 24-7 emails, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to switch off from the workplace and from those who have power over us,” he said in an analysis for The Conversation.
According to Musker, if you think you might be suffering burnout, ask yourself the following questions:
- Has anyone close to you asked you to cut down on your work?
- In recent months have you become angry or resentful about your work or about colleagues, clients or patients?
- Do you feel guilty that you are not spending enough time with your friends, family or even yourself?
- Do you find yourself becoming increasingly emotional, for example crying, getting angry, shouting, or feeling tense for no obvious reason?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time for change, he said.
“These questions were devised for the United Kingdom Practitioner Health Programme and are a good starting point for all workers to identify if you are at risk of burning out.
You can also complete the British Medical Association’s online burnout questionnaire, although it’s tailored for doctors so the drop-down menu will ask you to select a medical specialty,” he said.