Burnout is Officially a Diagnosable Condition

Symptoms include feelings of increased mental distance from one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.

The millennial condition affecting us all. 

Burnout – the recently-monikered disorder of which symptoms include exhaustion and delirium – is now a recognised and diagnosable condition.

As of early this week, it has now been added to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases, meaning that it will become a globally-recognised medical condition as of 2020.

The WHO defines burn-out as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

It characterises the condition with the following symptoms: 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 paper says that before considering burnout, doctors should first rule out similar disorders like anxiety and depression. It also states that the disorder should remain limited to work, and should not be applied to other stressful situations.

The phrase “burn-out syndrome” is credited to German-born psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, who used the term in a 1974 study of the condition.

Freudenberger analysed the phenomenon after he observed it in some of his colleagues, who described themselves as being “burnt out” and later also experienced it himself.

Nowadays, rental prices, poor commuting services, unpaid internships, burning climates, lack of job security and self-enforced activism are all being considered as contributing to burnout. 

In January 2019, a Buzzfeed article titled How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation went viral.

Writer Anne Helen Peterson was praised for accurately describing the root of the condition – which leaves some feeling physically paralysed – and how it's not restricted to office environments. 

"Burnout and the behaviours and weight that accompany it aren’t, in fact, something we can cure by going on vacation," she wrote. 

“It’s not limited to workers in acutely high-stress environments. And it’s not a temporary affliction: It’s the millennial condition. It’s our base temperature. It’s our background music. It’s the way things are. It’s our lives.”

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