What exactly is burnout? – Zoomit
Is burnout a form of depression?
At first glance, these two concepts seem contradictory. Depression is usually caused by the individual and job burnout is considered as a condition caused by social forces and mainly the workplace. But some researchers have questioned whether burnout exists as an independent diagnosis. Research shows that these concepts are not contradictory. Chronic stress in the environment can cause depression, and a certain temperament can make a person prone to burnout.
For example, Bianchi and his team reported in 2018 in the journal Psychiatry Research that a high score for the personality trait of neuroticism (characterized by irritability and anxiety) was a better predictor than some work-related factors such as poor supervisor support and incompatibility with co-workers. It is possible to experience job burnout. Additionally, burnout appears more often with depression than with pessimism or ineffectiveness, Bianchi and his team reported in a 2021 paper.
If burnout is characterized by a set of symptoms, then emotional exhaustion and depression appear to be a more promising combination than Maslach’s proposed triple combination, the researchers reported.
Does burnout need to be diagnosed as a clinical problem?
Not everyone thinks this is a good idea. “Burnout was never considered a clinical diagnosis,” says Maslach.
Bianchi and his team disagree. These researchers have presented an occupational depression questionnaire that evaluates nine main symptoms related to major depression, including cognitive impairment and suicidal thoughts, through the lens of work. For example, instead of rating statements such as “I feel like a failure,” participants rate the statement “My experience at work has made me feel like a failure.”
Bianchi says that if burnout is a form of depression, it can be treated the same way, and unlike burnout, there are treatments for depression.
But Kersi Ola, an occupational health psychologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, says: “Treating people, while often a necessary first step, does nothing to alleviate the work-related stressors that have caused this crisis. For example, a person is on sick leave for a few weeks, rests and recovers, but returns to the same situation where the demands are too high and there is no support. He is exhausted again. “It is difficult to break this cycle.”
Burnout is not included in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. When the syndrome was listed in the International Classification of Diseases in 2019, the World Health Organization accepted Maslach’s idea. The organization noted that burnout is an occupational phenomenon and not a medical condition.
Despite the equivocal evidence, is there a way to help people struggling at work?
Most researchers agree that burnout interventions should target work-related stress at all levels, from the individual to the workplace and governing organizations. Interventions at the individual level include therapy, exercise, creating hobbies outside of work, and modifying jobs to better match goals.
Renaud and Agnes Lacroix, a developmental psychologist at the University of Rennes, reported Jan. 2 in the International Journal of Stress Management that cognitive training programs that help restore memory, attention, and other cognitive deficits have shown promise in reducing cognitive problems associated with burnout.
At the job level, simple solutions such as fewer video meetings and fewer distractions during the workday can reduce distress. Maslach says it’s time to let go of the small changes that have increased people’s workloads over time. All tasks add to people’s tasks and never take away from their tasks.
However, changes such as stricter labor laws may be needed to combat burnout in countries such as the United States, where sick leave is rarely guaranteed and few laws protect employees against overwork and job insecurity. But even without laws forcing employers to do so, governments and companies that prioritize healthy workplaces will ultimately benefit more. “When people feel good and cope well and have energy, they’re better employees,” Ola says.