Burn-out: een ongrijpbaar fenomeen

Hoe komen we verder?
Christiaan H. Vinkers

De diagnose wordt vaak gesteld, maar waarover hebben we het nou precies als we een burn-out constateren? Zolang dat niet duidelijk is, blijft doeltreffend behandelen lastig, betoogt psychiater Christiaan Vinkers.

Burn-out: an elusive concept

Approximately 1 in 6 citizens report burn-out symptoms. But what does this mean? Many people sooner or later suffer from fatigue, irritability, and sleeping problems. When do these symptoms become so severe that they become a burn-out? Discussions about the causes and solutions for burn-out are common, but it is important not to lose sight that burn-out has a limited scientific basis. There are changing definitions over time, no reliable diagnostic interview, a large overlap between burn-out and depression, and no evidence-based treatments. Thus, burn-out remains an elusive concept. The impact and suffering of what we call burn-out is undeniably real and poses a great problem, but can we really help people in their recovery if our knowledge of burn-out is so limited? In this perspective, I pose critical questions about the current scientific state of burnout, but also want to argue that there is a constructive way forward based on recently acquired knowledge about stress and its inherent dynamics that perhaps offers a fundamentally different approach to understand burn-out.

Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.