'Burnout' from work is now an official medical condition

The World Health Organization recognizes it in its International Classification of Diseases Handbook.
[Associated Press
[Associated Press
Published May 28
Updated May 28

Is your job stressing you out? Are you crumbling under the pressures of a heavy workload?

What you're feeling may have just gotten some validation.

The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that “burnout syndrome” will now be recognized for the first time as an official medical diagnosis in the organization's ICD-11 handbook, which guides medical providers in diagnosing disease and health insurers in providing coverage.

Burnout can be found in the handbook's section on problems related to employment and unemployment.

According to the handbook, doctors can diagnose someone with burnout if they have feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job or reduced professional efficacy.

Before assigning a patient to burnout, however, the ICD warns doctors to first rule out adjustment disorder as well as anxiety and mood disorders.

“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 new designation.

The decision to list burnout — reached during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, which concluded Tuesday — puts an end to more than four decades of debate among experts over how to define the stress disorder.

Contact Josh Fiallo at jfiallo@tampabay.com. Follow @ByJoshFiallo.