Why are so many engineers depressed

Perfectionists particularly at risk from burnout

Burn-out is actually a form of depression. But while the word depression still arouses many prejudices, the acceptance of burnout syndrome as a disease is increasing.

According to the World Health Organization, almost 8 million people in Germany feel burned out and empty. Anyone who discovers this state of exhaustion, which can lead to depression, has two options: he questions his work structures and those of the employer, seeks help - or he remains silent, builds a facade of seemingly normal activity around himself, around his own condition to conceal. Because nobody wants the stamp of being no longer resilient.

Burnout, however, is less stigmatizing than one might think. “Particularly motivated and perfectionist employees are at great risk when it comes to burnout. But those who are burned out through hard work and high performance are more socially acceptable than those with depression, ”says Jürgen Margraf, psychotherapist and professor of mental health at the Ruhr University in Bochum. Burn-out is nothing more than a form of depression. "Especially with men, depression is less accepted than with women," says Margraf - especially men in managerial positions are often silent about this supposed weakness, studies show. Women are more often depressed than men, but because women now want to be at least as tough as their male colleagues, the risk is also increasing, says Margraf.

Burnout and depression left companies helpless for a long time

German companies are aware of these dangers. More and more large companies are offering prevention programs, such as Evonik Degussa, Mercedes-Benz and Lufthansa. Uwe Gerecke, member of the executive committee of the Association of German Company and Company Doctors (VDBW), believes that German companies are now more sensitive to dealing with mentally ill people. "Burn-out and depression have long been viewed as flaws, as weaknesses that companies faced helplessly," explains Gerecke, company doctor at energy supplier enercity Hannover.

Today, however, this is no longer an image problem for the companies, because the DAX companies in particular have recognized the dangers of mental illness at work and taken countermeasures, because according to experts, the economic costs of mental illness are immense, albeit difficult to quantify. On the other hand, the high costs for the German health system are well known: According to the Federal Statistical Office, € 5.2 billion was spent on the treatment of depressed patients in the past year - dementia and depression therefore recorded a cost increase of 32% in the period from 2002 to 2008 to book.

Burn-out: men reach for bottles, women for medication

Regardless of the financial consequences of depressive disorders for businesses and the healthcare system, the personal and social consequences are more serious. In addition, many patients have the inability to talk about it - out of shame or fear or the thought of not wanting to impose on relatives and friends. The patient often stigmatizes himself. "Self-medication creates additional problems," says Jürgen Margraf, "with men reaching for bottles more often, women more for medication."

In order to break out of this vicious circle, professional therapeutic help is essential. But what happens after therapy and reintegration into everyday working life? Many patients wonder how they should approach their employer. “Work is a means of giving meaning and structure to life. It is important to realize that it is not the only thing, ”advises Margraf. The worker should not be overburdened, but neither should he be treated like a raw egg. An open approach to the illness during reintegration creates the best conditions, explains enercity company doctor Uwe Gerecke.

"Today you can definitely expect a manager to show understanding for this disease"

Management must be prepared for such discussions. “Nowadays you can definitely expect a manager to show understanding for this disease; that communication structures allow a dialogue about it and that the working atmosphere has become an important factor in everyday work, ”said Gerecke. According to his statements, the number of cases of burnout and depression at enercity has increased - “mainly because more people than before now dare to speak openly about their illness”.

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