Dutch Language Blog

What happens with burn out in the Netherlands? Posted by on Aug 30, 2017 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary

According to the Rijksoverheid website, 1 million people in the Netherlands suffer burn-out related symptoms. The Netherlands is one of the countries with the most burn-out related complaints in Europe.

Photo taken by Firesame! found on Flickr.com

But what is burn out and what happens when you are burned out and live in the Netherlands?

What is it?

The website Gezondheidsplein.nl defines burn out as:

een specifieke toestand van overspannenheid naar aanleiding van emotionele overbelasting. Als je een burn-out hebt voel je je “burned out”, of opgebrand. Je kunt geen energie meer vinden om werk te verrichten. 

In other words, you have no energy to fulfill your regular activities and are emotionally unable to deal with it (in loose terms). Reasons for feeling burned out can include goals and/or tasks that are too high to reach, little autonomy at work, being bullied at work, among others. An appropriate Dutch expression that describes this situation is de emmer loopt over meaning that this person’s responsibilities are just too much and your boundaries have been crossed (literal translation: the bucket is overfilled).

The following video explains in more detail what happens to your body and the symptoms of burn out. In this video, you can find many useful words and expressions.

What can you do?

If you think “ik ben op” or I am all out, it is important to research the situation and speak to some people. There are several quizzes online that help you determine if you have the symptoms (note that these should not be taken as a professional diagnosis). You should also talk to your doctor or huisarts about this. He might refer you to the POH-GGZ for further diagnosis. You can read more about that on a previous post I wrote about mental health. Lastly, the most important person you need to talk to about this is your werkgever or employer. Your employer can then refer you to the arboarts or work doctor. With the arboarts, you can set a plan of action as to what to do.

What are your rights and obligations?

Employers in the Netherlands are required to cover 70% of your salary for the first 104 weeks of your illness. This is why it is very important to talk to your werkgever, the arboarts and your huisarts. The course of action to get you back on your feet may include therapy, rest, reduction of work hours, etc., but, this varies per person. During these 104 weeks, you cannot be fired from your job because the Nederlandse wet protects employees from that.

Have you experienced burn out? Do you think employees are sufficiently protected in the Netherlands if and when they get burn out?

Useful vocabulary:

de combinatiestress- stress from combining work and family life
het loonbehoud- wage retention
iets opgeven- give up something
op zijn- exhausted
de emmer loopt over- you have to much to deal with
ingrijpen- intervene
onvermogen- inability
de arbeidsongeschiktheid- disability (to work)
de werkplek- workplace

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Joseph T. Madawela:

    the Netherlands has such an enlightened way to deal with a health issue