Understanding the Overlap Between Workplace Burnout and Depression

If you’ve ever experienced burnout in your workplace, then you know just how challenging it can be to find motivation. Tasks that you once did with ease suddenly feel monotonous, and you may struggle to complete even the simplest ones. You may even begin to feel cynical about your work.

Over time, we often begin to associate burnout and depression as being the same. But is this necessarily true? Let’s take a closer look at workplace burnout to understand its overlap with depression.

What Is Workplace Burnout?

Mayo Clinic defines workplace or job burnout as “a special type of work-related stress-a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

Burnout can affect anyone, in any field, at any time. It’s important to note that “burnout” itself isn’t a medical diagnosis, but is often associated with an underlying diagnosis (such as depression).

Symptoms of Burnout

The best way to recognize whether you may have workplace burnout is through the signs. Common burnout symptoms include:

  • Extreme fatigue at work/lack of energy to get tasks done
  • Lack of satisfaction about work achievements
  • Difficulty concentrating, focusing, or completing tasks that you used to do with ease
  • Impatience with boss, coworkers, clients, and possibly even yourself in the workplace
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Physical nuisances-headaches, body aches, stomach problems

What Causes Workplace Burnout?

So, if you feel as if you’re suffering from burnout, you may be wondering what causes it. Mayo Clinic offers some great insights into potential causes:

  • Unclear job expectations – You don’t know what your boss or coworkers expect of you. The generals of your job are clear, but the specifics aren’t, leading to stress, anxiety, and uncertainty.
  • Dysfunctional work environment – If you work in a particularly hostile office, or have a particular coworker who bullies you, this can add to your stress.
  • Lack of work-life balance – It’s crucial that we have hobbies outside of our jobs. If you feel as if all you ever do is work, it can severely affect your happiness.

How Depression Plays a Factor

Some experts believe that burnout is symptomatic of depression, whereas others believe that depression is a result of burnout. In reality, both are right.

There have been individuals who have started to feel burnout in their workplace that escalates into depression. On the other hand, some may be depressed, to begin with, and the depression leaks into their work life, too.

Whatever way you experience the progression of burnout, it’s prevalent that depression accompanies burnout in some form.

Coping with Burnout and Depression

If you’ve been reading through this article and fear that you may be experiencing burnout, depression, or both, there are ways to cope. You can start at the root itself, which is your workplace. Speak with your boss and explain what you’ve been going through. If you feel as if you have unclear expectations, see if you can get some clarity.

Begin to emphasize striking a work-life balance. You can do so by taking up a new hobby-painting, baking, yoga, or hiking are all great options. If your sleep has been affected, try to get on a better sleep cycle. This approach may involve going to bed earlier, listening to soothing sounds as you sleep, or cutting back on caffeine during the day.

Finally, and most importantly, seek out support. You don’t have to struggle with burnout or depression on your own. If you aren’t sure whether you’re experiencing burnout, depression, or both, a therapist can help you understand what you’re going through.

Furthermore, they can provide definitive support, advice, and resources to help improve your mental health and get your career back on track.

If you’ve been struggling at work, it doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. Please reach out to me today for the sake of your professional and personal well-being.

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