WHO: Job Burnout Is More Than Just a Pain

Disorder is officially recognized by health experts
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2019 7:51 AM CDT
WHO: Job Burn-Out Is More Than Just a Pain
Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, cynicism about work, and reduced performance.   (Getty Images/seb_ra)

Add job burnout to the list of diseases recognized by the World Health Organization. Included for the first time in the International Classification of Diseases, occupational burnout results "from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed," and is marked by depleted energy or exhaustion; a mental disconnect or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced work performance, per Quartz. A 2017 review of hundreds of studies published over four decades identified the condition as "one of the most widely discussed mental health problems in today's society," despite it not being fully recognized, reports CNN. The authors noted much research focused on causes, leading to "vagueness and ambiguity," particularly when attempting to distinguish between burnout and depression.

The WHO now says doctors should eliminate the possibility of adjustment, anxiety, mood, and stress disorders before diagnosing a patient with burnout, which "refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life." The ICD, which guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases and takes effect in January 2022, "has been updated for the 21st century and reflects critical advances in science and medicine," the WHO says in a release. Deutsche Welle reports the updated list also includes "compulsive sexual behavior" and video game addiction. (More on the latter here.)

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