Living in the hectic Bay Area, where working 24/7 for a startup is more than norm than the exception, traffic is insane and the cost of living is brutal, getting “burnout” is often considered a humblebrag. But now it is also a legitimate medical diagnosis.
Getting pushed beyond your limits and losing all sense of work/life balance really can make you sick, according to the International Classification of Diseases, or the ICD-11, the World Health Organization’s handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases. Burnout now appears in the ICD-11’s section on problems related to employment (or unemployment.)
“Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life,” according to the handbook.
You can be diagnosed with burnout if you show the following symptoms:
1. feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion2. increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job3. reduced professional efficacy
While burnout has been studied for decades, including a landmark study by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974, as CNN noted, many have not considered it an actual mental disorder even though it has long been described as a pressing social issue. The decision to list burnout — reached during the World Health Assembly in Geneva — puts an end to more than four decades of debate among experts over how to define the stress disorder.