Burnout is now an official medical diagnosis—here’s how to know if you suffer from it

When we unload our work stresses onto friends and family, their response is often that we might be burning out—which essentially means overworking ourselves. The phrase “burnout,” referring to extreme work stress, has been around for years. But now, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it’s officially a medical diagnosis. And we knew it all along.

World Health Organization’s handbook, called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), now lists burnout as a diagnosis related to employment or unemployment.

"Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed," the diagnosis characterization reads. "Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life."

The WHO lists three main burnout 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.

—Reduced professional efficacy.

We hate to pull a WebMD and self-diagnose, but wow. We’ve definitely experienced all three. Like, recently.

If you approach your doctor about diagnosing your burnout, they’ll first have to rule out adjustment disorder, anxiety, stress, or mood disorders, the handbook states. But if all signs point to your job being the culprit of your exhaustion and feelings of negativity, you probably suffer from burnout.

After talking with your doctor, figure out some ways to help yourself manage your day-to-day schedule. Plan a vacation. Say no to more projects. Make sure you’re putting your mental health before your work.

Next time your friends and family warn you to be careful of burnout, listen to them. It turns out that it’s not just a buzzword; it’s a very real thing.

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