The Difference Between Depression And Burnout

When you’re depressed, you feel like you’ve lost something but at first you aren’t sure what’s lost.

Then one day you realize, what you lost is yourself.

People suffering from depression often say they don’t recognize themselves anymore. 

You remember once feeling happy and energetic, but it feels like those emotions occurred in a far-off, never-to-be revisited galaxy.  You used to laugh and joke but now you just want to burrow under the covers and not come out.

Having depression is like being trapped in an emotional purgatory version of a twilight zone.

But here’s the thing: burnout is very similar yet it’s important to understand the difference.

Let me explain.

Depression And Burnout Mimic Each Other

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion combined with cynicism, along with feeling detached from important people and activities. You feel like a failure. 

You get burned out when you experience physical, mental, or emotional stress over a prolonged period of time, as compared to depression when you experience feelings like hopelessness and worthlessness.

Burnout has been difficult to separate from depression because its symptoms coincide with symptoms of depression. For example, emotional exhaustion is the core of burnout. It reflects a combination of the unrelenting sadness and fatigue common to depression.

But that’s not all.

Work-related risk factors for burnout are predictors of depression. And individual risk factors for depression – such as past depressive episodes – are predictors of burnout. 

Overall, burnout resembles a classic depressive process that’s unfolding in reaction to unresolvable stress.

Certain symptoms that are considered to be typical for burnout also occur in depression. These include:

  • extreme exhaustion;
  • feeling down; and,
  • reduced performance.

Precisely because the symptoms are so similar, you could be diagnosed with burnout even though you really have depression. So, I want you to be very careful not to self-diagnose burnout too quickly and end up with unsuitable treatment. 

For instance, if you really have depression that’s been mis-identified as burnout, you might be advised to take a longer vacation or time off work. If you were burned out, taking time off could help. But if you’ve got depression, you might need more robust help such as a therapist or even medication – especially if it’s severe.

Why It’s Crucial To Understand The Difference

Despite the strong links between burnout and depression, it’s important to understand how depression is different.

In depression’s early stages, you feel mildly sad, occasionally hopeless, and  experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness as a result. At its worst, you may feel trapped, severely depressed, and think the world would be better off without you.

I can’t stress enough, if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek help from emergency services by dialing 911, or seek out a mental health professional.

Also, it’s important to understand that stages of depression are different spots on a continuum. You can be depressed enough to suck the joy from your life without having thoughts of harming yourself. You need to be aware that there is light at the end of the tunnel. A good mental health professional can provide you with helpful resources. 

There are also a variety of natural treatments for your depression. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.

6 Ways To Ease Depression Naturally

  1. Set a schedule: because depression can strip away the structure from your life, with one day melting into the next, setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.
  2. Set goals: when you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. That makes you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself. Start with small ones that you can succeed at.
  3. Exercise: exercise boosts your body’s natural feel-good chemicals, called endorphins. Regular exercise also seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways. Even walking a few times a week can help.
  4. Eat healthy: though there’s no magic diet that fixes depression, eating whole, unprocessed foods and limiting or eliminating processed carbohydrates and sugars will help.
  5. Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is needed to produce the feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Although deficiency of vitamin B6 is rare, if you’re taking oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, or drugs for tuberculosis you may be at greater risk for a deficiency.
  6. Magnesium: Most people do not get enough magnesium in their diets. Good sources of magnesium include legumes, nuts, whole grains, and green vegetables. Like vitamin B6, magnesium is needed for serotonin production.

Sign up for my complimentary  “From Burnout To Balance: A Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice”: This practice has been shown to:

  • Increase mindfulness, well-being, self-confidence, and personal power
  • Increase your ability to concentrate
  • Cultivate a greater resilience to stress, a positive mindset, and a sense of hopefulness and calm
  • Decrease stress and stress-related symptoms like frustration, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm or lack of control, anxiety, depression, low energy, headaches, body aches and pains, muscle tension, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections
  • Reduce or even stop worrying

You have a lot of choices to care for yourself!

Whether Depressed Or Burned Out, Show Yourself Some Love

No matter if you know you’re burned out or depressed, showing yourself some love is one key to bringing yourself back to health and happiness. It is more than possible to wake up in the morning eager for the day, excited about what’s to come, and brimming with energy. 

So, let’s get you started with my free From Burnout to Balance 7-Day Self-Love Challenge. There is a WAY OUT of the Burnout Cycle. How? It starts by you taking care of yourself.

Now, I get that this may be asking a lot of yourself. (It was for me!) Which is why, each day for 7 days, I’m going to challenge you to take 15 minutes for yourself – with me – to look at what’s really going on beneath the signs of burnout. 

We’ll look at the habits and behaviors that are negatively impacting your health. I’ll give you simple strategies for how to turn this all around so you can get on the path towards balance and enjoying your life (again). 

If you’re ready to break out of the burnout cycle and desire to be…

  • Relaxed and confident, knowing you’re tending to the most important priorities
  • Energized, clear and focused
  • Calm, easy-going and peaceful
  • Sleeping like a baby and waking up rested
  • Engaged, inspired and passionate about your life 

Join me by clicking here to sign up for my next From Burnout to Balance 7-Day Self-Love Challenge. It’s Free!

And day by day, re-fall a little more in love with the happy wife, mom, sister, and daughter you truly are.




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