Burnout or Depression

Burn out is a term used to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals causing physical and mental symptoms as exhaustion and inability to cope with it. It can affect anyone, from stressed-out careerists and celebrities to overworked employees and homemakers.


Possible causes include feeling either permanently overworked or under-challenged, being under time pressure, or having conflicts with colleagues. Extreme commitment that results in people neglecting their own needs may also be at the root of it.


  • Exhaustion: Feelings of being drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, not having enough energy. Pain and stomach or bowel problems.
  • Alienation from (work-related) activities.
  • Reduced performance
The similarities to depression are
  • extreme exhaustion
  • feeling down
  • reduced performance
The differences are
  • In depression, negative thoughts and feelings aren’t only about work, but about all areas of life
  • low self-esteem
  • hopelessness
  • suicidal tendencies

People with burnout don’t always have depression. But burnout may increase the risk of someone getting depression.

Lifestyle choices that can prevent burnout

Make sure your daily life includes the following:

  • Play. This involves stimulating the brain in novel and diverse ways as embracing a hobby.
  • Connect. Having “positive, meaningful social connections” beyond one’s partner and kids. “As mammals, we’re meant to live in a community.” Be it friends or extended family, everyone needs a “village” of sorts.
  • Downtime. Unplugging for a few days or weeks is certainly helpful, our brain needs to unwind and recharge daily. This may mean taking a lunch break instead of gulping down your meal in front of the keyboard; going for a short walk in the evening; or even taking a shower and reading a book instead of spending the last few moments of the day surfing the web.
  • Say no in a direct but diplomatic matter is “the quickest way to avoid burnout,” maybe by “sandwich method” (stick your denial between two layers of positive statements).