Burnout has been a recognized result of prolonged stress since the term was first used in medical research by Herbert Freudenberger in 1974, and then popularized in the media by researcher Christina Maslach. Maslach published an article titled “Burnout” in 1976 and went on to co-create the Maslach Burnout Inventory in 1981, the first attempt at measurement for burnout. However, burnout has been an issue for ages. Though the term burnout was new to medical literature in the 70s, people have been self-diagnosing themselves as burned out for much longer. And surely humans experienced the physical, mental, and emotional effects of burnout before the word was ever used.
In the latest update on burnout definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially now recognized burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” in their International Classification of Disease. In the WHO definition of burnout, there are three main traits that characterize burnout:
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.”
Hopefully, this announcement will also lead to more research in the area. Burnout is an issue that is affecting people around the world, and it’s helpful when an international body validates what doctors and therapists have been seeing in increasing numbers.