Burnout has become a well-known phenomenon in the working world. Overwork at work can lead to a condition that is often described by those affected as a feeling of burnout. Burnout is primarily a mental state, but can also lead to physical secondary diseases. With the new classification system ICD-11 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) of the WHO, which is to apply from 2022, burnout is described as a syndrome, not as an independent disease. Accordingly, the following symptoms are characteristic of burnout:
- (emotional) exhaustion
- increasing mental distance from the profession or negative/cynical attitudes towards the profession (also described as depersonalisation)
- reduced performance
According to the definition, burnout is clearly to be placed in a work-related context and can occur when stress is too high and persists for a long time. The decisive factor here is that there are not enough resources available to deal with the stress in an appropriate way. Occupational fields that are exposed to a lot of stress, such as medical professions, are particularly at risk.
People affected by burnout often notice that they are less concentrated, stressed and overstrained at work and they also often have negative emotions, are tired and irritable. The symptoms of burnout are very similar to symptoms that are also typical of depression. Researchers are therefore divided as to whether burnout is a type of depression or whether these two concepts can be distinguished. However, it is known that people who suffer from burnout are more likely to develop depression than the average population.
Regardless of how burnout is classified, it is perceived by those affected as a severe strain. The key to fighting burnout is to counteract the continuous stress with conscious relaxation. This can be achieved, for example, through sport or meditation. Neurofeedback can also help to free the brain from its permanent stress by training specifically relaxed brain activity. Fixed appointments that are intended to help you relax can also help, as they are less easily cancelled in stressful everyday life than the intention to go jogging in the evening. With relaxation training to reduce stress and build up stress resistance, neurofeedback can be used both as therapy and as a preventive measure.
In addition to sometimes serious effects on those affected, burnout as a stress-induced syndrome can also have an impact on the economy, which has to deal with an increasing number of absences from work. In order to reduce this development, there are preventive measures that are aimed at reducing stress and learning how to deal with stress in a healthy way.
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World Health Organization. (2019). Burn-out an “occupational phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/