The WHO Says Burnout is Now an Official Medical Diagnosis

That feeling of extreme work-related stress that we’ve known for years as “burnout” is now an official medical diagnosis according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO (not the legendary rock band) publishes a handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases called the International Classification of Diseases or ICD-11 (of course!) and this year’s edition now includes…burnout. According to the big disease book, doctors can diagnose someone with burnout if they meet the following symptoms:

  1. feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  2. increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  3. reduced professional efficacy

Although the term is relatively new, researchers have been studying burnout for decades. Psychologist Herbert Freudenberger is credited with inaugurating the formal study of the state of burnout with a scientific article published in 1974, according to a 2017 review of literature published in the journal SAGE Open. The authors of that review, Linda and Torsten Heinemann, say that over the next four decades, hundreds of studies appeared on the subject. During that time, they noted burnout was not considered an actual mental disorder even though it is “one of the most widely discussed mental health problems in today’s society.”

Sure, we know that burnout is a real thing and THE very best way to keep yourself and your team free from it is to build a strong wellness program at your company/organization. Not sure where to start? Our team of employee benefits and health insurance experts can help guide you to the best employee wellness options available!

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Burnout is an official medical diagnosis, World Health Organization says

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