Healthcare workers, teachers, students- the list goes on. Many people working in those professions experience burnout, and nowadays, burnout rates are increasing. This article will explore the possible ways of defining burnout, as the consensus has not been established yet, the symptoms of burnout and possible ways to combat it.
Let’s start with some statistics to grasp the extent of this issue. All generations of current workers, both young adults as well as those who are about to retire, report approximately 50% rate of burnout. Male and female workers report similar levels as well (~40%), even though women have a bit higher rate. Especially the first figure, 50% of employees experience burnout, is very concerning. Burnout is classified as an occupational phenomenon in ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases) but it is not a medical condition. There is an ongoing dispute between researchers as well as among the medical community about whether or not it should be classified as a disorder such as depression which causes problems with gathering data for statistical analysis. However, what everyone agrees on, are symptoms exhibited by people with burnout. Exhaustion, lack of motivation, cynicism and reduced professional efficacy are the most common states seen in those employees. Those symptoms overlap with some symptoms of depression and/or anxiety which is another added difficulty in defining burnout as a separate condition or a symptom of already classified disorders.
Even though people tend to think that burnout is caused by overload of work, it doesn’t need to be as simple as that. One of the leading researchers of this area, Prof. Maslach, identified the following six components that can contribute to this phenomenon: workload, control, reward, community, fairness, and values. According to her, when one or more of those concepts is mismatched between a person and their occupation, that’s when burnout can develop. The reality is that we are all more likely to experience burnout at some point of our lives because we tend to try to look for the ways in which we can multitask and become more efficient which means that we increase our workload. It is quite a concerning perspective, but there are techniques which can help us prevent burnout early on. You might decide to start therapy if you struggle with balancing personal and professional life but on a daily basis, you can take care of yourself by scheduling time for exercising, doing your hobbies and eating well. People who already have burnout can enroll in cognitive training programs that help them restore their previous cognitive levels.
In order to stop rates of burnout from increasing, we need to make more people aware of it and provide them with techniques to help them cope with this phenomenon. Hopefully, over the next few years, we will be able to change those drastic statistics and create more supportive work environments.
Gupta, Sujata. “Lots of People Feel Burned Out. But What Is Burnout Exactly?” Science News, 21 Feb. 2023, www.sciencenews.org/article/people-work-burnout-depression-wellness. Accessed 22 Feb. 2023.
interstid – stock.adobe.com. Bild.de, 2023, images.bild.de/5cecde419f28b50001262b60/ec3726f0fc8dd6bce5d22262a870900b. Accessed 22 Feb. 2023.
Mills, Kim. “Speaking of Psychology: Why We’re Burned out and What to Do about It, with Christina Maslach, PhD.” Apa.org, 2022, www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/burnout.
World Health Organization. “Burn-out an “Occupational Phenomenon”: International Classification of Diseases.” World Health Organization, 28 May 2019, www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases.