Most of us have experienced a vague sense of feeling “burned out” by work, but now there’s a specific definition for what that actually means. The Wor
Most of us have experienced a vague sense of feeling “burned out” by work, but now there’s a specific definition for what that actually means. The World Health Organization recently updated their International Classification of Disease codes (ICD-11) to define burnout as a syndrome with three dimensions.
The new definition doesn’t mean that burnout (or, as they call it, “burn-out”) is a disease; it’s classified as a “factor influencing health status.” Here’s the new definition:
Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 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; and 3) 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.
If you feel like you meet the criteria for burnout, you might want to mention it next time you’re seeking medical or mental health care. On its own, burnout isn’t considered a medical condition, but it represents added stress in your life that you may need to deal with. Seek professional help if you need it, or consider whether taking a “mental health day” from work may give you enough breathing room to consider your options.