Biuso: Burn-out recognized as medical diagnosis by World Health Organization

Some days, your job may feel like an uphill battle. Perhaps it’s a struggle to be consistently productive or to even motivate yourself to get in the door.

Dr. Thomas Biuso

It’s normal to feel checked out of your job sometimes, but when you feel this daily it may be something more. Burn-out is no longer just a feeling, it’s a legitimate medical diagnosis classified by the World Health Organization  as an “occupational phenomenon.”  

It can be difficult to know if what you’re feeling is just a bad day at work or if it’s burn-out. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Do you feel like you have to force yourself to go into work?  
  • Do you lack the energy to get work done?  
  • Do you have trouble concentrating or feel a lack of satisfaction for your accomplishments?  

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing burn-out. WHO characterizes burn-out according to three dimensions:  

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion 
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job 
  3. Reduced professional efficacy 

These feelings and effects are only to be referred to in regard to your job and should not be applied to describe other areas of life. If you haven’t voiced your feelings or found an effective outlet to reduce your stress, burn-out’s effects may spill over into your mental, physical and emotional health, which may affect your personal life.  

If you feel you may be experiencing burn-out, here are some tips to help you cope: 

  • Openly communicate with your supervisor. Discussing your concerns may help you find solutions to things that are causing stress at work. 
  • Reach out for support. Co-workers, friends or loved ones may offer the support you need to help you cope with your stress.  
  • Find ways to relax. Consider trying yoga, meditation or breathing exercises to improve your mental health.  
  • Get your body moving. Exercise may help reduce stress and boost your mood. 
  • Prioritize a good night’s sleep. The restorative effects of sleep are important for your health and well-being.  

For more ways to help reduce stress and avoid burn-out, go to newsroom.uhc.com/health/meditative-breathing-stress.html.

Consider talking to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing burn-out as it could also be linked to depression and other mental illnesses.

Dr. Thomas Biuso, MD
Chief medical officer
Employer and individual, West Region
UnitedHealthcare

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