By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Burnout at work has been declared an occupational syndrome with a growing number of people saying they’re overwhelmed by stress on the job. Stress is known to cause a variety of health problems — everything from heart disease to insomnia to depression and obesity — and 80% of workers claim to feel stressed at work.

Now excessive stress is being called a new syndrome. Scientific studies have shown work-related stress levels have increased nearly 20% in three decades.

The World Health Organization has classified unmanaged stress on the job — burnout — as an occupational syndrome.

Experts say there are three ways to know if stress has turned into burnout.

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“One of them is just generally, you’re more exhausted, you’re more lethargic,” Dr. Joseph Rock said. “The second thing is, you’re less efficient. You’re not working as well as you used to work. And the third thing is, you’re getting very negative and cynical in your thinking about work particularly.”

Doctors say in addition to the danger of losing a job, people have the tendency to take work stress home and it can affect overall health — both mentally and physically.

Quitting isn’t necessarily the obvious simple solution.

If people can’t change their frame of mind about work, those feelings may follow to the next job, doctors say.

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Before it gets to that, controlling burnout starts with creating boundaries between work and home.

“There’s a lot of ways to do that in terms of setting limits for yourself on how many hours you’re going to let yourself work,” Rock said. “It involves being able to really leave work at work and now answer works emails or work phone calls when you’re at home.”

Another way to help fight burnout is to have a support network of coworkers — not to complain to, which makes things worse, but to be supportive.

Doctors say while some people turn to alcohol to cope with stress, a better choice is exercise, which has been proven to be one of the best stress busters.

Stephanie Stahl