People, especially professionals engaged in work demanding extensive personal commitment, are vulnerable to a complex syndrome characterized by: extreme fatigue, depression, psychosomatic illnesses, substance abuse, apathy, resignation and defensiveness. Symptoms of burnout include feelings of exhaustion, cynicism about one's job and difficulty doing the job successfully.
Working too hard is now considered an official medical condition, says the World Health Organization, which has added 'burnout' to its handbook of medical diagnoses.
In its International Classification of Diseases Handbook, the WHO describes 'burnout' as an occupational-related condition "resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed". It notes that burnout is to be used specifically "in the occupational context" and that it "should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life." WHO did not state what would be the appropriate medical treatments for occupational burnout.
A 2018 survey found nearly one in four employees feels burned out always or often, with another 44 percent saying they feel burned out "sometimes."
Whilst characteristic of extreme forms of executive stress amongst business executives faced with conditions of rivalry and competition, it appears in a different light in the case of people in the caring professions (health, social services, psychotherapy, relief).