The decision, reached during the World Health Assembly in Geneva, which wraps up on Tuesday (May 28), could help put to rest decades of debate among experts over how to define burnout, and whether it should be considered a medical condition.

In the latest update of its catalogue of diseases and injuries around the world, WHO defines burn-out as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

It said the syndrome was characterised by three dimensions: “1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy.”

“Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life,” according to the classification.