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Burnout – What is it and can CBD help?

02/08/2022 4 MIN. READ Mirko Berger
02/08/2022 4 MIN. READ Mirko Berger

What do Moses, Goethe and van Gogh have in common? Any ideas? If nothing rings a bell, no worries, we’ve got you covered: They all experienced burnout – at least that’s what some authors are suggesting these days.

Whether we can make a definitive posthumous diagnosis like this is hard to say. But the one thing we can say for sure is that the phenomenon of exhaustion and feeling utterly overburdened are as old as humanity itself.

So it’s high time we got answers to some fundamental questions: How do we define burnout, what are the symptoms and how can we prevent it from happening in the first place? And how sensible are all the suggestions to use CBD to treat burnout?

What is burnout?

The phenomenon of burnout was first mentioned in studies carried out in the 1960s and 1970s. Initial publications on the subject focussed mainly on human service professionals, including probation officers and people in the nursing professions. Today, it is assumed that roughly 4.2 percent of Germans will suffer from burnout in the course of their lives.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life. The cause of burnout is defined as being chronic, work-related stress that can no longer be managed by the individual.

The WHO lists the following as the three main symptoms of burnout:

  • 1) Feelings of lack of energy or exhaustion
  • 2) Increased mental distance to one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • 3) A sense of inefficiency and reduced professional efficacy

While a burnout is often compared to an empty battery, the metaphor of a bank account might be more apt: indeed, an empty battery just runs out of power, whereas with a bank account you can often dig into your line of credit when you feel you have to. In other words, just like with burnout, you’re going to exceed your limit and overdraw your account every once in a while.

Burnout or depression?

The WHO has officially recognised burnout syndrome, which means that it is now included in the so-called ICD-10 code. However, burnout is not listed as a disorder, but instead as a “factor influencing health status”. Accordingly, it is not considered to be a stand-alone disorder, but rather a co-occurring one.

However, this is not because the symptoms of burnout are not taken seriously. The WHO merely criticizes the imprecise definition of the syndrome – and they’re not alone in doing so.

Some psychiatrists worry that if a person is diagnosed with burnout, there is a risk that an actual depression might go undetected. Indeed, the symptoms of burnout are quite broad – plus the diagnosis of burnout is often less stigmatized in our performance-oriented society. In fact, many people would be more willing to say that they have burnout than to admit that they suffer from depression.

So there’s most definitely a need for continued research and clarification when it comes to the topic of burnout. Still, there’s no doubt that there are job-related situations that facilitate and foster a sense of burnout.

The burnout test – Is it possible to prevent burnout?

The most commonly used burnout test is the so-called “Maslach Burnout Inventory” or (MBI). Click here to find a German version of the burnout test.

It goes without saying that this test in no way replaces a diagnosis by a trained medical doctor. As always, the go-to person in this case is your family doctor, who will be able to refer you, if necessary. And, just like all other kinds of sick leave, you are not in any way obliged to tell your employer what your condition is – unless you choose to.

In the long run, though, being able to talk openly about stress at your job can be really important. A study of 7,500 workers showed that they were 62 percent less likely to experience burnout if their supervisors had an open mind when it came to their work-related problems.

CBD for burnout?

Burnout is a serious condition that should be taken seriously, and it’s not something you should have to go through alone. If you suspect you’re suffering from burnout, you should seek professional medical care, which is why we don’t recommend taking CBD for burnout.

Although our bodies have the appropriate cannabinoid receptors to absorb CBD via our endocannabinoid system, at best, this can provide us with an improved sense of well-being in temporary stressful situations. In other words, it does not serve as a treatment or in any way solve the underlying problem.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with something that makes you feel good and therefore a little more relaxed. But you shouldn’t wait for burnout to do something good for yourself. It takes a lot of small, proactive steps to cope with the many stresses of everyday life. If you find that CBD is one of those steps and makes you feel better, then the only thing we’d say is: Go for it.


What is cbd oil?

CBD oil is part of our CBD cosmetics and is made from the flowers or other CBD-containing parts of the hemp plant. It shouldn’t be confused with cannabis or hemp oil. The unique thing about CBD oil: While it contains CBD – as the name already suggests – the concentration of THC permitted in CBD is a maximum of only 0.2 percent. In other words, you can profit in a perfectly legal way from the benefits of cannabinoids.

How much CBD should I take?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. We’ve compiled a brief summary of everything you need to know about how much CBD to take in our guide to dosing CBD. The guide will help find out which dose fits your particular situation.

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