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Difference Between Depression and Burnout

Depression vs Burnout

Many picture burnout and depression as two different words having identical meanings. However, even if the two have several symptoms common to both, they are still considered as two separate conditions that have differing prognoses.

Simply said, burnout is a state that is just induced by severe stress. Depression, on the contrary, is a clinical behavioral disorder affecting one’s mood. With this, it is therefore more appropriate to say that when you are having a burnout you are also at risk of experiencing or developing depression rather than the other way around.

When one is suffering from depression, he or she is unable to attain or experience a state of pleasure. As a result, you often see depressed individuals shrouded in extreme sadness. Burnout sufferers look different because they feel overly exhausted to the point of doubting their own ability to carry out their regular activities of daily living. Severe burnouts may also lead to one doubting his own self-worth.

In terms of symptoms, the two conditions have many similarities. Both depressed and burnout sufferers show symptoms of withdrawal and fatigue. Depressed individuals also show signs of hopelessness and disinterest. Severe depression can already alter the sleep-wake pattern of an individual thus triggering insomnia. The most serious cases are those involving persons who possess some recurring thoughts about death. Those who experience a burnout are often accompanied by feelings of helplessness, self-doubt and failure on top of the other feelings similarly experienced by depressed individuals.

Depression is usually rooted upon a number of factors like when one is suffering from an incurable chronic disease or an extreme severance of relationship (death, breaking from a serious romantic relationship) with a very significant other. Depression has also been discovered to have some genetic predisposition and environmental roots. With regard to burnout, this condition is usually tied in with strains in work and high demand stresses of life in general.

The approach in managing depression and burnout also differs. Depression, as a clinical disorder, is best treated with medications that are anti-depressive in nature. Coupled with psychotherapy, the prognosis of depression is fair yet the symptoms may still recur during several instances in one’s lifetime, not to mention last longer than in an ordinary burnout. Conversely, burnout is ideally managed with stress reduction and lifestyle modification so as to allay its symptoms. Unlike depression, burnout ends immediately as soon as positive changes to the lifestyle are already in place.

  1. Depression is a clinical mood disorder unlike burnout which is just a result of extreme stress.
  2. Burnout is usually more work-related than depression.
  3. Depression is a more serious condition that has longer lasting and recurring symptoms unlike burnout.
  4. Depression is best managed with medications while burnout is addressed by stress reduction.


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