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Feeling ‘burned out’ is now an official medical diagnosis

Published May 28th, 2019 11:07PM EDT

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Do you ever just feel totally burned out? I don’t mean the run-of-the-mill exhausted feeling we all endure from time to time, I mean really, really burned out? Most of us assume that a feeling of “burn-out” is just one of the many pleasures of modern lives, juggling work, family, friends, and other responsibilities, but a new report from the World Health Organization suggests it’s something more.

A new update to the International Classification of Diseases now lists “burn-out” as an actual medical condition that can be diagnosed. It’s characterized as intense tension and feelings of exhaustion, but there are some important differences between regular old stress and what is now officially termed burn-out.

Burn-out is considered separate from anxiety and mood disorders, and it’s defined by the World Health Organization using a set of very specific criteria:

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.

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.

Put simply, everyone experiences workplace stress and varying levels of exhaustion, but what separates true burn-out from everyday stress is its impact on a person’s ability to do their job, or their attitudes towards their daily occupational routine.

It’s important to note that an official medical diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything new that an or should be done about someone experiencing burn-out. There’s no burn-out medication you can swallow that will magically fix things, and it’s likely that advice from doctors regarding how to deal with burn-out will likely follow the same trends it always has, including tips on how to manage time and ensuring that workplace stresses don’t cross over into one’s personal life.

Nevertheless, if you’re feeling utterly exhausted with your job and just can’t stomach the thought of waking up on Monday morning, now there’s an official name for that feeling.