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Is It Burnout or Depression? How to Tell the Difference

Have you been struggling with exhaustion and a lack of desire to do daily tasks? Do you find yourself overwhelmed and perhaps hopeless? You might be experiencing burnout, but it could be something more.

Have you been struggling with exhaustion and a lack of desire to do daily tasks? Do you find yourself overwhelmed and perhaps hopeless? You might be experiencing burnout, but it could be something more.

It can be difficult to know if you’re experiencing burnout or major depression because they both can cause:

  • Fatigue (feeling physical and/or emotionally drained)
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lack of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities
  • Physical symptoms (headaches, digestive troubles, muscle or joint pain, and more)
  • Neurochemical/hormonal changes in the brain and body

Both conditions, burnout and depression, can make life difficult. Depression, though, goes deeper and is more serious. In addition to the above symptoms, depression can cause:

  • A sense of worthlessness
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Significant weight changes
  • Sleep disturbances (sleeping too much or hardly at all)
  • Thoughts or death or suicide, with or without a plan

Burnout is typically caused by stress. While depression can be linked to stress, its causes can also be genetic. Sometimes, the cause of depression is unknown. Burnout tends to be shorter lived, improving once the stressor is addressed. Depression can disrupt life for weeks, months, or even years if left untreated.

The good news is that both burnout and major depression can be treated. Working with a therapist can be beneficial for both, as can lifestyle changes like nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and mindfulness. Sometimes, depression requires antidepressant medication. If you are experiencing symptoms that are interfering in your life, scheduling an appointment with your doctor can help you sort things out and begin the journey to recovery.

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That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network you belong to by clicking the links below. For updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Instagram.

Thank you,
Deborah

Community Partner Team
HealthyPlace.com - America's Mental Health Channel
"When you're at HealthyPlace.com, you're never alone."
http://www.healthyplace.com

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2021, May 11). Is It Burnout or Depression? How to Tell the Difference, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, June 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/is-it-burnout-or-depression-how-to-tell-the-difference

Last Updated: May 12, 2021
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Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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