Burnout vs Depression: What’s The Difference & How To Recover
Feel like you can’t take it anymore? Like your life is too much to handle? Is sleeping all you want to do all day? If yes, you might be experiencing something within yourself that isn’t quite right. Most often, this can be a sign of depression or burnout. But how can you tell the difference between the two?
What is Burnout?
Burnout is the feeling of extreme stress to the point of exhaustion. Burnout is difficult to define due to the vast amount of signs and symptoms. However, it is considered to be an excessive amount of stress as a result of an ongoing stressful activity.
Experiencing burnout is not only restricted to the context of work. You can experience burnout in various areas of your life. For example, being in an unstable marriage, taking care of someone for a long period of time, or taking care of children on your own. Alternatively, feeling like having a lack of control, unclear expectations, being in an overwhelming environment, spending a lot of energy, and being in an unsafe environment can all lead to being burnt out.
5 Common Symptoms of Burnout
What is Depression?
Depression is characterised by feelings of sadness and of loss of interest in activities you once found enjoyable. Oftentimes, it leaves people finding it hard to even get out of bed. As if nothing matters anymore. However, depression can also be expressed through anger and irritability in some cases. The feelings associated with depression can influence various areas of your life, ranging from work to social relationships.
Depression is a mental illness that should not be taken lightly. While it ranges in severity, it can be debilitating and long-lasting if not monitored. It is sometimes difficult to be able to pinpoint exactly when it started or what caused it.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Differences Between Burnout & Depression
While some symptoms are similar, an indication of the difference between depression and burnout can be determined by the duration of the symptoms. Depression, for instance, can impede your daily life and is usually more long-term. In order to distinguish between depression and burnout, there are some criteria to look out for:
1. Source of the feeling
In depression, the negative feelings you have are more directed towards yourself and the value you place on yourself. For example, feeling as though you are not good. In contrast, burnout is something that is caused by something outside yourself. For example, a demanding job.
2. Origin of the source
Sadness is something felt more generally in depression. It is therefore difficult to pinpoint where those negative feelings are coming from. It is often difficult to find out why you are feeling low. In burnout, you can more easily detect the source that is causing your distress.
3. Duration of the feelings
Generally, depression can last longer than burnout. Burnout starts in response to a stressor. Depression can start at any point and can last throughout a person's life.
4. Influence in your life
Burnout usually affects one area of your life more than the others. For example, burning out as a result of stress and work can influence your work-life. Depression can influence various areas of your life. For example, your relationships, work, health and more.
5. Views on the self
Burnout does not influence the way you see yourself as depression does. With depression, you can feel helpless, have low self-esteem and even have thoughts about suicide.
Are There Similarities?
While we have established that burnout and depression are different experiences, they do share some similarities that can make it challenging to distinguish between each other. Some examples include:
Can Burnout Cause Depression?
Simply put: yes!
It is vital to know the signs and the differences between burnout and depression because, if left untreated, burnout can lead to depression. Importantly, usually depression is more long-term and requires more treatment. Burnout, on the other hand, has different stages and can sometimes be easier to recover from. Therefore, if you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, make sure to seek help, and monitor how you are feeling and any changes in your mood. While recovering from burnout and depression is possible, it is a lot easier when you catch it early.
How to Recover from Burnout
Compared to depression, most problems associated with burnout are the result of a specific event. Therefore, making adjustments surrounding that event or context can help you recover.
Here are some ways to reduce burnout:
Most importantly, reach out to a mental health professional. If you are in a situation where it is difficult to remove the source of stress, or alter your surroundings, a mental health professional will be able to help you develop skills/mechanisms that you can practise and use to cope.
How To Overcome Depression: 5 Tips
Depression is more challenging to recover from than burnout. It requires specific treatments like therapy or—in severe cases—medication. Here are some tips that can help you overcome depression:
Depression and burnout are certainly related to one another. There are many signs and symptoms that can easily lead you to confuse one for the other. With both, there is a negative state of mind. With depression, however, the negativity is related to various areas of your life and is more often paired with low self-esteem and hopelessness. On the other hand, burnout is about a specific area of your life and is more related to feelings of stress and extreme tiredness.
Knowing the difference between the two is important to know which areas of your life need the most guidance. It is also important to identify the right tools you need in order to overcome either condition. Taking small steps to take care of yourself—on top of seeking professional help—will help you increase your mood and feelings of worth. We hope this article has been helpful and we wish you the best in your journey. Whatever the struggles you are dealing with, please remember, you are not alone. Take care.
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