Demystifying Depression/The Burnout Syndrome
The Burnout Syndrome
There is much talk (at least in the Netherlands) about the so-called burnout syndrome. And as is often the case, there is more noise than signal in this discussion. First of all, in medical terms, there is no such thing as a burnout. There are depressions, period. A burnout is just a depression whose causes are mostly work-related. Remember that the person's attitude towards the task at hand plays an important role in the biochemistry of the brain. Should you have a job that you find boring and repetitive, or should the surrounding circumstances (overbearing boss, bad corridor atmosphere) make you feel uncomfortable about going to work every day, a depression is likely to develop.
Second, when a person is said to be burned out, what they have is a lingering depression from which they have not yet fully recovered. Also, there are plenty of mildly burned out individuals who have never received any kind of treatment. They often drone through life for years before the problem is diagnosed.
I made a section out of this issue precisely because the general attitude in this country is to dismiss burnout as just a psychological problem, thus being handled with a lot of complacency, or just ignored. This is all the more tragic if one considers the statistics which show the Netherlands to have some of the highest percentages of people affected by this problem. There is indisputably also a psychological component to burnout, but it goes far deeper than that.