The World Health Organization (WHO) has for the first time recognised “burn-out” in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which is widely used as a benchmark for diagnosis and health insurers.
The decision, reached during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, which wraps up on Tuesday, could help put to rest decades of debate among experts over how to define burn-out, and whether it should be considered a medical condition.
WHO did not recognise Burnout as a distinct disorder in the DSM-5. It is included in the ICD-10, but not as a disorder. It can be found in the ICD under problems related to life-management difficulty. It was on Saturday affirmed as a medical diagnosis when WHO added Burnout to the ICD-11.
The ICD-11, was drafted last year following recommendations from health experts around the world, and was approved on May 25, 2019.
In the latest update of its catalogue of diseases and injuries around the world, WHO defines burn-out as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
It said the syndrome was characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.”
According to the classification, “burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
“This is the first time” burnout has been included in the classification, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters.
The ICD-11, which is to take effect in January 2022, contains several other additions, including classification of “compulsive sexual behaviour” as a mental disorder, although it stops short of lumping the condition together with addictive behaviours.
It does however for the first time recognize video gaming as an addiction, listing it alongside gambling and drugs like cocaine.
The updated list removes transgenderism from its list of mental disorders meanwhile, listing it instead under the chapter on “conditions related to sexual health”.