Burnout Is Now a Legit Medical Diagnosis

Burnout Is Now a Legit Medical Diagnosis

Your long holiday weekend is basically over. How does that make you feel? Are you a little bummed, but know that once you’ve mainlined that first cup of coffee tomorrow, you’ll be fine? Or does the idea of going back to work make you want to shave your head, take off all your clothes and roll gently into a sewer?

If your answer is the latter, you may be experiencing burnout, which the World Health Organization has officially deemed it a legitimate medical diagnosis. According to CNN, “burnout” now appears in the International Classification of Diseases, in the subcategory that deals with “problems related to employment or unemployment.” Specifically, it says:

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; and 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.

As a freelancer who regularly works 12-hour days in a notoriously unstable industry only to tread barely above the poverty line, I certainly wouldn’t know anything about this, but that sounds terrible! It’s also not an especially helpful diagnosis for those toiling in the gig economy, where limited (or nonexistent) protections for part-time workers render the idea of “sick days” a quaint anachronism.

So even if you could get a doctor’s note (because you can afford to go to a doctor?), your burnout probably won’t translate to a day off. But it is nice to know that it’s probably shortening your lifespan. Really, what is death if not your first chance to finally log off and take a real vacation?

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