Anxiety, stress, burn-out and depression

Mental disorders and illnesses such as anxiety, stress and exhaustion up to depression, often summarized under ‘burn-out’, have meanwhile ceased to be just a ‘manager’s disease’, because increasingly broader sections of the population seem to be affected. In particular, the term burn-out, which in the general assessment seems to be associated with exhaustion after previous overexertion, i.e. more of a high performance potential, has developed a strong suggestive power and almost ‘contagious’ potential! The fact of its linguistic existence alone creates those affected! In this way, terms seem to create realities, say critics of the term burnout.
But new terms show also new diseases that may not yet be diagnosed on the basis of hard biological criteria, but have nonetheless become a social reality.

Who is affected?

Since there are not yet any standardized diagnostic criteria for the burn-out phenomenon, it is scientifically difficult to describe. The following picture emerges from surveys:

  • Almost always people with multiple burdens, including housewives and mothers
  • People who carry out activities with high pressure on time, cost and deadline and at the same time a ‘bad working atmosphere’
  • People in occupations with relatively low social recognition
  • People in professions that are subject to social criticism.

However, if you take a closer look at the symptoms associated with burn-out, they not only remind you, but also correspond to categories that can actually be found in the International Classification System for Diagnoses (ICD 10): e.g. light, medium to severe depressive disorders, as well as adjustment disorders with symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Numbers and facts

There are then also more reliable epidemiological figures, which have been collected above all by the health insurances, which have observed the development of certain diseases of their insured persons over the years. A dramatic picture actually emerges here, which supports the assumption that burnout phenomena are rampant.
Find out about the current facts and figures from the surveys of the DAK health report (2020), the stress report and the information brochures from AOK and TK.

In the DAK Health Report 2013, which focuses on the subject of mental illnesses, it says:

“The increase in incapacity for work due to mental illness has been by far the most noticeable development in incapacity for work for about 15 years. The DAK health reports 2002 and 2005 made a significant contribution to bringing this development to the attention of the general public and experts now a period of 16
Years (1997-2012). During this time, the number of days absent due to mental illness has increased enormously. (…)

From 1997 to 2012 the number of days of incapacity for work due to mental illness increased by 165 percent (…). The number of inability to work, i.e. the AU cases, increased by roughly the same order of magnitude, namely by 142 percent (…).

The proportion of those affected, i.e. the proportion of employees who were on sick leave due to a psychological diagnosis, increased by 131 percent in the period under review (…).

The most important key figures for sick leave due to mental diagnoses also make the relevance of the topic clear: With a share of 14.5 percent of the days absent, mental illnesses are increasing

[for the first time] ranked second among the most important causes of sick leave – behind musculoskeletal disorders [and before respiratory disorders]. Among women, more than one out of six days of sick leave can be attributed to a psychological diagnosis. ”

In view of this initially purely quantitative increase, the DAK Health Report 2013 asks in its main topic: “Update mental illnesses”. Are we sick differently today?

“The development of inability to work due to mental illness has been the cause of a series of public debates for years, with the following questions being discussed:

  1. Does the increase in sick leave due to mental illness reflect an actual increase in the prevalence of these disorders?
  2. Does an improved diagnostic competence of general practitioners and a de-stigmatization of mental illnesses mean that doctors and patients are more likely to make or allow such a diagnosis?
  3. What role does the world of work play in this? Have the stresses caused by increased workload, flexibilization and precariousness increased to such an extent that they are responsible for the phenomenon of increasing absenteeism due to mental illness?

With regard to the last question in particular, a new emphasis on the role of the world of work has developed in recent years: the enormous attention paid to burnout syndrome. In the meantime, the burnout syndrome has become a metaphor for psychological suffering, the main cause of which is suspected to be in the world of work. ”

The report, which aims to “use new insights to objectify the debate about mental illnesses”, examines the “development of incapacity for work due to mental illnesses” and the “prevalence of mental illnesses in the population”. Psychotherapists and psychiatrists as well as a representative survey of 3,000 employees will be included.

You can view the DAK Health Report 2013 here: DAK health report 2013 (PDF)

Further factual information on the subject of working conditions and psychosomatic disorders can also be found in the ‘Stress Report Germany 2012’, which is published by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Stress report Germany 2012

There it says: “The interdependencies between working conditions on the one hand and mental disorders on the other hand have increasingly moved into the focus of science, the public and politics in recent years Work stress suffer from stress and psychological complaints and become ill as a result.
The Stress Report Germany now examines the extent to which employees in Germany are currently exposed to psychological demands and stress at work. It also provides information on the status of working conditions, which in the form of resources have proven to be positive aspects. In addition, it is about the change in the stress experience as well as the question of the extent to which one feels up to the demands and the consequences of stress and strain. (…)

The results of the Stress Report Germany are based on the sixth wave of the BIBB / BAuA employment survey, a data collection that has been carried out regularly since 1979 and since 1998/99 with the participation of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. For this purpose, between October 2011 and March 2012, a total of 20 036 employees were questioned in telephone interviews. The 17,562 employees in the sample were included in the analyzes. The report shows that there have been hardly any changes in the requirements and resources since the last survey in 2005/2006.
However, the all-clear cannot be spoken of. Because the requirements from work content and organization have partially stabilized at a high level. In addition, at the same time, the subjectively perceived stress increased further, as did the complaints. In addition, there are significant differences between the individual groups, as shown by the breakdown of requirements, resources, stress and the effects of stress according to age, gender, industry, occupation, etc. The need for action and design potential must be derived on the basis of such differentiated analyzes. ”

Stress report Germany 2012 (PDF)

Brochures from AOK and TEK

The AOK and the TEK are also aware of the importance of these diseases and have developed their own information and prevention offers, also in cooperation with companies.

Further information from the AOK can be found here:

TK has published its own brochure on the subject of stress:

You can view this brochure here: “ Stress – How you can recognize stressors and cope better with stress.

Practice of Prof. Stark

Holistic diagnosis and therapy of psychosomatic disorders

In view of these facts and figures, which clearly show a growing need for scientifically sound approaches to treat these phenomena, Prof. Stark and his team have made it their business to find out how to contribute to a responsible, holistic approach to the causes and effects of burnout and depression on an individual level as well as in business and society!

Let me now come back to the specific work with the patient: In order to ensure the most efficient treatment possible, it is important to distinguish between the symptoms of the categories of Anxiety , Burn-out , Depression and Chronic-Fatigue-Syndrom (CFS) as clearly as possible, whereby there are of course smooth transitions. The following pages should help you to classify your symptoms, to recognize your actual risk and to develop initial ideas about an efficient treatment.


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