Is it depression or burnout?
Let’s do a little exercise… Think back to a time when you were feeling down- seemingly for no reason at all. Maybe you were having trouble falling asleep, experiencing bad moods, or feeling powerless and helpless. While what you experienced may look, sound, feel, and smell like depression; did you ever think that you might just be tired??? If your recent mood matches this description, you may not be depressed at all. In fact, you could be suffering from long-term exhaustion or what psychological researchers have termed “burnout.” Burnout probably sounds familiar. It is often used to describe being tired or worn out or someone who skips class and smokes too much weed. In this case, however, it takes on a different meaning. Recent research suggests that this kind of exhaustion can be an antecedent of depression, meaning it can sometimes be a cause of depression. Burnout is typically brought on by conflicts in working environments, but these problems can be carried over into your personal life, which is where depression usually ensues.
These two conditions also share some important similarities that cause someone to mistake long-term exhaustion for depression. For instance, individuals suffering from either of these states frequently experience sleep problems. The difference here is that exhausted individuals will have trouble falling asleep, while those with depression will have trouble staying asleep, causing them to wake early in the morning. Another shared characteristic, not surprisingly,is that both burnout and depression can result in poor cognitive functioning. Those experiencing burnout, however, experience far more difficulty completing basic tasks than people with depression.
So what’s the moral of the story? Exhaustion and depression appear to be at least somewhat related, but are still fundamentally different. Depression can often appear in individuals who seemingly have no reason to be unhappy with life, but burnout and exhaustion are totally preventable. Small daily pressures can accumulate over time and emotionally exhaust us. When we learn to cope effectively with these smaller stressors, they’re less likely to build up and drive us crazy later. This way, we can save our energy for more important things… like reading blogs on the internet.
Another way to prevent exhaustion is to find just a little bit of time every day to rest. Just as our muscles get tired after a long day, so do our brains. They need love, too! Lastly, be sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. This seems like an obvious way to keep from being tired during the day, but many people still deprive themselves of enough sleep. So make certain to treat yourself to a good night’s rest.
No one likes a burned-out, cranky person. So do yourself and everyone else a favor by taking good care of yourself to prevent burnout.