A periodic crisis does not mean burnout

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German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology: Crisis in phases does not have to indicate a burnout

Fatigue and exhaustion at the weekend are not the same as a mental illness such as burnout or depression. However, if the condition lasts longer or becomes a permanent condition, those affected should seek specialist or therapeutic treatment. Before that, the family doctor must rule out physical illnesses.

The media landscape reports almost daily on public confessions of actors, politicians or athletes. The debate about burnout fatigue syndrome has encouraged many people to stand by their own mental ailments. “The debate has brought mental illnesses out of stigmatization,” praises the German Society for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Neurology (DGPPN). At the same time, however, the experts warn against hasty diagnoses and errors. There is a danger that the feeling of burnout will become a "fashion diagnosis".

TV chef Tim Mälzer or Ralf Rangnick, ex-coach of Schlake 04: The public statements from Burnout make it easier for many people to talk about their psychological ailments, as the current position paper of the DGPPN states. Due to the burnout diagnosis alone, employees were on sick leave in 2010 for around 53 million days. Compared to 1995, sick days increased by 80 percent due to fatigue syndrome.

Burnout with severe sequelae
If you complain of symptoms such as fatigue, listlessness, reluctance and exhaustion and the condition is not just a temporary episode, you should seek medical advice immediately. Constant exhaustion can provoke serious mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders or addictions, as Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Maier in Berlin reported. Physical complaints such as chronic pain, ringing in the ears, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure or recurring infections can also be an expression of a burnout. A prolonged state of exhaustion can also be an early warning sign of psychoses or tumors, he warns the expert. Before starting therapies, the general practitioner should be the first point of contact. If no organic findings have been made, the doctor will issue a referral for a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy or to a psychotherapist.

Warning of hasty diagnoses
In its paper, the specialist society strongly warns against considering all forms of psychological impairments or crises as burnout. The diagnosis is then undifferentiated and does not match the internationally applicable classification system for mental illnesses (ICD 10, F group). Anyone who feels “only overworked” in a period of time is far from suffering from a manifest illness. Burnout syndrome does not exist if people suffer from stress, inner tension, short-term sleep disorders or a phased feeling of exhaustion. A free weekend or a short vacation away from work or private life is usually enough to relax. The specialists clearly warn against equating burnout and depression. Misdiagnosis could lead to over or under supply for patients.

Burnout is becoming a problem for society as a whole
"Employers and unions have a duty to reduce excessive demands in the workplace", because the social consequences of sick leave and early retirement due to mental illness can hardly be absorbed by the health system. "Such a trend must be stopped", the Federal Minister of Labor Ursula von der Leyen also appealed to the specialist society in a greeting. (sb)

Read on:
Medical examination in case of constant exhaustion
Burnout syndrome: total exhaustion
Constant stress puts soul under pressure
Therapists and doctors are often affected by burnout
Burn-out patients keep silent about their suffering
Burnout syndrome affects more and more people
Underload makes you sick: the bore-out syndrome
Fashion diagnosis burnout syndrome

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixelio.de

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