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Health: Burn-out recognized by the WHO for the first time as a disease - how those affected benefit

Health: Burn-out recognized by the WHO for the first time as a disease - how those affected benefit


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WHO recognizes burnout as an illness for the first time

For decades, medical experts have been debating whether burnout can be recognized as a disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has now decided: Yes! - and has now recognized the phenomenon for the first time as a disease that can be attributed to "chronic stress at work".

Stress in the job can make you sick

More and more people feel burned out due to the increasing workload and stress in the job. Those affected may experience depression, difficulty concentrating, chronic fatigue and severe inner restlessness. These are all typical signs of burnout. So far, however, there has been no binding definition for this exhaustion syndrome. This has changed now.

Definition of burnout

For decades, experts have been discussing how to define burnout and whether it is a disease.

Health insurance and doctors are often based on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) of the World Health Organization (WHO).

All recognized clinical pictures are recorded in the ICD and provided with a code, which doctors then use for documentation. The WHO defines, manages and maintains this catalog.

Now three new clinical pictures have been added to the ICD list: burnout, video game addiction and compulsive sexual behavior.

Inclusion in the ICD catalog simplifies dealing with those affected. For example, it is easier for the sick to find a suitable doctor and the documentation and referral is simplified for medical professionals, since the clinical picture can be named precisely. The new ICD-11 is scheduled to enter into force in 2022.

In the future, burnout will be defined as a syndrome due to “chronic stress at work that is not successfully processed”.

Three dimensions

According to the experts, burnout is characterized by three dimensions:

1.) Feelings of energy loss and exhaustion
2.) increased mental distance to your own job or a negative attitude to your job
3.) reduced professional performance

"Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in a professional context and should not be used for experiences in other areas of life," says the ICD.

Recognize warnings

In any case, it is important to correctly interpret the warning signs of burn-out and to seek help at an early stage. A study last year had surprisingly shown that a saliva sample can also provide information about the burn-out risks. Further information can be obtained from the medical examination as part of a detailed medical history.

Prevention options

For the treatment of burnout patients, health experts suggest measures such as "learning relaxation techniques, healthy living, relieving, reflecting and realigning personal expectations and demands, improving work-life balance etc.", the website says, www.psychiater-im-netz.org “of the Professional Association of German Psychiatrists (BVDP).

These "are to be checked and coordinated in terms of their individual constellation."

Prevention is even better. The German Federal Association for Burnout Prevention and Prevention (DBVB) in Munich had previously pointed out various prevention options.

The experts mentioned the identification and reduction of sources of stress, targeted relaxation (e.g. through progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, yoga, tai chi, qi gong), sufficient sleep, regular exercise, healthy eating and taking time out. (ad)

Author and source information


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