Burnout vs Depression – All You Need To Know

Burnout vs Depression

Stress has now become an inevitable part of our lives. With stress comes the pressure to perform well, keeping up with peers. Well, it goes without saying, that today’s lifestyle has become more tedious and monotonous than a source of enjoyment and comfort.

As tasks pile up on our to-do list, are you sure your mental health is also keeping up with the bulk of work your handle?

It is no joke that people face issues at home and in the workplace. Emotional and mental draining has become a part and parcel of our lifestyle.

Experiencing sleepless nights, chronic fatigue, a constant feeling of melancholy, unwillingness to do your work, inability to concentrate – are some issues that we might face. However, if you continue to feel this way for a very long time, it may drain you physically, mentally and emotionally. But what are these signs of – A burnout, or Depression?


Sign of Burnout and Depression

Burnout refers to a negative state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion, caused by excessive stress and inability to cope. On the other hand, depression is a mood disorder, generally characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness. Since the symptoms of burnout and depression overlap a lot, it’s often difficult to distinguish between the two of them.

Disclaimer: The purpose of the blog is to educate, hence please do not use the information for self-diagnosis. Please seek medical help, if you think there is a need for the same.

Here Are 4 Key Differences Between Depression and Burnout.


1. Depression is a mood disorder

Burnout is a negative mental state, which happens when one is subject to continuous stress and inability to keep up. This means that if a person tries to distract himself from his routine work, like say plan a vacation or take some time off for relaxation, the negative effects of burnout may start to erode. Burnout has not been recognised as a diagnosable mental disorder, because it lacks the 4Ds of abnormality- Deviance, Dysfunction, Distress and Danger. However, depression on the other hand is a disorder, which requires immediate medical attention. It is a persistent state of sadness and hopelessness, which cannot be treated unless there are medical guidance and medication (antidepressants).

Burnout has a trigger and Depression has episodes

2. Burnout often has a trigger

It is no surprise that burnout is very common these days. Stress plays a major part to trigger burnout. It can vary from one individual to another- it can be in the form of exam pressure for students or the pressure of getting a promotion in the case of adults. However, once the individual seeks clinical help, the trigger can be traced. The doctor can prescribe some healthy practices. To avoid stress your daily routine should have these healthy practices. However, the modus operandi changes when depression sets in. A person may have a depressive episode for a few weeks, be fine for some time, then again begin to have another depressive episode out of the blue, that may last for months. Hence, there is no definite trigger for depression.

3. Burnout happens in stages

Burnout is characterized by unfolding in stages in increasing degrees of severity. The 5 different stages of burnout are – honeymoon phase, the onset of stress, chronic stress, burnout, and habitual burnout. Burnout has 3 components that stand out –  exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.  However, depression does not unfold in stages. Depression doesn’t develop linearly and progressively.

5 stages of Burnout and 5 major symptoms of Depression

Depression Has 9 Symptoms:

  1. Depressed mode
  2. Appetite change
  3. Sleep change
  4. Low interest
  5. Agitated or slowed
  6. Low energy
  7. Worthlessness
  8. Thinking problems
  9. Suicidality.

It takes 5 of these, to be considered as having a major depressive episode. Depression is assisted by mental and physical changes, unlike burnout.

4. Burnout causes depersonalization

Depersonalization is the experience of feeling detached from oneself. It may feel like you are going through your daily routine, but you are not feeling it. You often “don’t feel yourself” in this process.

 It may seem that you have lost yourself and you are just surviving in this world. A person with depression also faces depersonalization, but it doesn’t occupy the limelight as it does in the case of burnout. Depression is so much more than depersonalization – your body and mind both change in a depressive episode in ways that you can’t comprehend. 

Irrespective of whether one suffers from burnout or depression, it is always advisable that you take professional help when things go out of hand. Talk to your loved ones about your feelings and seek help. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. If you think that your lifestyle is getting more tedious and stressful, take the initiative to make changes and set time out for yourself. Read books, enjoy the chirping of birds in the verandah, brew hot coffee in cold chilly winters, appreciate yourself for the efforts you put in and most importantly, inculcate the habit of self-love. It is more of a necessity these days than a choice. Remember, you are important and your feelings are valid, and it’s okay not to feel okay. Reach out, because we all are humans and we need to help each other. 

We hope you liked this blog “Burnout Vs Depression: All you need to know” and found it helpful to understand the key difference between Burnout and Depression. Also, visit our blog A Guide To Teen Depression to know about teen depression, and stay tuned with Blogger Bunny for more blogs.


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