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WHO Recognizes 'Burn-out' as Medical Condition, But Do You Know What it is?

Burn-out is a condition of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged and ongoing stress at work.

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Updated:May 28, 2019, 1:06 PM IST
WHO Recognizes 'Burn-out' as Medical Condition, But Do You Know What it is?
Representative Image: Getty images

For the first time ever, the World Health Organization has recognized ‘burn-out’ as a medical condition. In its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which is widely used as a benchmark for diagnosis and health insurers, the world health body has introduced the word ‘burn-out’. But what does it mean? Well, burn-out can be defined as a condition of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged and ongoing stress at work, which may result in emotional exhaustion, detachment and feeling ineffective.

The World Health Assembly in Geneva, which will conclude on Tuesday, decided to include the world burn-out as a medical condition, putting an end to years of debate over define burn-out and if it qualifies as a medical issue. In its meeting, WHO defined burn-out as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

While minimum stress at the workplace is nothing new to most of the employees, the poor management at work might further escalate the stress. At times, this stress at workplace reaches a point where a person slips into depression and other mental issues. To raise the red flag at workplace regarding stress might help in curbing the pressure and provide a healthier space to work at.

At listed by WHO, the six major risk factors for work burnout are having an overwhelming workload, limited control, unrewarding work, unfair work, work that conflicts with values and a lack of community in the workplace. In addition, workplace burnout is most common among people who have to navigate complex, contradictory and sometimes hostile environments.

Symptoms like feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's job; feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job and reduced professional efficacy are early signs of workout burnout.

To help the colleagues overcome this mental condition, organizations should provide sick leaves to the sufferers, in addition to providing the necessary counselling to them.

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