Since burn-out is “merely” a diagnosis, the state of research is not yet satisfactory. There is no single description, diagnosis, or treatment for Burn-out.
However, there is one point of agreement.
- Burn-out develops over a longer period of time
The symptoms develop over a longer period of time, months or even years. This also makes the diagnosis difficult, because in the initial phase a burn-out manifests itself differently than after some time or in the final phase. Since this is a creeping process, it is very easily overlooked, especially in the beginning.
- A Burn-out proceeds in several phases
However, there is disagreement about the number of phases, which can range from 3 to 7 to 12 stages. For example, there is the exhaustion spiral in 3 phases by Unger and Kleinschmidt or the 12 stages by Freudenberger and North to name only 2.
For some, burn-out is also just a new term for depression. And yes, the symptoms of burn-out, especially in the last stage, total exhaustion, are very similar and burn-out can also lead to depression. Still, there are differences. Burn-out is often tied to one area of life. It can be work-related, as according to the WHO, or it can have causes in the private sphere, such as caring for a sick family member. So, a cause can be identified that can be worked on to correct. With depression, on the other hand, it is often not possible to determine the cause at all.
Burn-out is therefore a relatively new syndrome that has not yet been sufficiently researched and about which we can and must still learn a lot. Whether it is an illness, a diagnosis, or a trend, it has a massive impact on the lives of those affected as well as the people surrounding them and their workplace. In most cases, support is needed to get out of this spiral. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes.