We all go through periods where we feel like we’re in a rut, but sometimes it’s more than just being in a funk. Burnout and depression are two symptoms that can look the same on the surface, but they have some key differences. What’s worse is that they often occur together, which makes it all the more difficult to figure out what you’re actually dealing with.
Depression and Burnout Are Two Different Things
Depression and burnout are two different things. Depression is a mental illness, while burnout is a state of being. This can make it difficult to distinguish between the two since they both cause high levels of stress and negatively impact your health. Depression is an illness that can not be overcome by willpower. Burnout, on the other hand, is a state of being that may have biological roots. The difference lies in how depression and burnout are experienced.
What Is Depression?
Let’s start with some basic definitions: Depression is a mental health issue characterized by feeling sad or hopeless for weeks or months at a time; it affects your ability to function normally in everyday life. It’s different from regular sadness because it lasts longer than two weeks and affects how you think about yourself and others around you. Depression can also make it difficult for people who have this mental illness to go out into public places without feeling self-conscious about their appearance, or even just too tired for social interaction.
People who experience long periods of depression often feel like something is wrong with them as people rather than just having a mental illness. On top of this, there is an added stigma about being depressed when others don’t understand what it means exactly. This makes recovery even harder than normal because people who suffer from depression often feel isolated throughout their journey toward better health.
Signs of Depression
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Pessimism and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in things that were once pleasurable
- Changes in appetite
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
How To Treat Depression
Medication and talk therapy can both help alleviate symptoms of depression. Most people find that a combination of both works best for them. It all starts with reaching out to your health provider and letting them know the things that you are dealing with. Once you speak with your doctor, you can create a treatment plan to combat the depressive feelings you are feeling. We also offer services here at Acera Health to help you in your battle with depression.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is often defined as feeling exhausted from constantly giving your all at work or life in general—maybe even to the point where you feel like you have nothing left to give anymore. Chronic exhaustion leads to physical problems like headaches and muscle pain, which can further contribute to feelings of hopelessness that may lead someone down a path toward depression.
However, many people who experience chronic stress do not develop clinically diagnosable symptoms for either condition. For example, you might find yourself working hard for long hours without taking time off. This could be because someone doesn’t know how else they would get everything done on time or perhaps there are just too many projects going on at once so they need to push themselves past their limit so as not to fall behind schedule. Regardless, these are situations in which one has to push themselves to the max. These situations aren’t always indicative of mental health issues affecting one’s ability to function effectively during working hours.
Signs of Burnout
- Concentration issues
- Depressed mood
- Feeling worthless
- Loss of interest
- Suicidal thoughts
- Gastrointestinal problems
- High blood pressure
- Poor immune function
- Reoccurring headaches
- Sleep Issues
How to Treat Burnout
One good thing about burnout is that it is reversible. It might take a day, maybe a week, maybe even a couple of months of self-care to overcome burnout. Talking to those around you that you need a break is a great place to start. That might mean talking to your employer or your spouse and expressing that you need some time off to take care of your mental health.
Making time for self-care is important. Doing the things that you want to do will help. You might need to consider changing positions at work to a lower-stress position to protect your mental health. A vacation can be helpful also. Time away from your everyday routine can foster burnout recovery.
Waking up every day feeling tired and unfulfilled can be exhausting and frustrating. You might think you are depressed when you are really just experiencing burnout. Taking the time to sit down and talk to a mental health professional about your symptoms and the things you are going through might really help you determine if you are depressed or experiencing burnout. Either way, there is help for you to get better and live a full and happy life. If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of depression or even burnout, please reach out to us here at Acera Health. You are not alone. There are many people who are going through the same thing as you. When you reach out for help, you will be surrounded with love and support to get you back to your happy self. Please call (949) 647-4090.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.