The relationship between job stress, burnout and clinical depression

J Affect Disord. 2003 Aug;75(3):209-21. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(02)00101-5.


The definition and phenomenological features of 'burnout' and its eventual relationship with depression and other clinical conditions are reviewed. Work is an indispensable way to make a decent and meaningful way of living, but can also be a source of stress for a variety of reasons. Feelings of inadequate control over one's work, frustrated hopes and expectations and the feeling of losing of life's meaning, seem to be independent causes of burnout, a term that describes a condition of professional exhaustion. It is not synonymous with 'job stress', 'fatigue', 'alienation' or 'depression'. Burnout is more common than generally believed and may affect every aspect of the individual's functioning, have a deleterious effect on interpersonal and family relationships and lead to a negative attitude towards life in general. Empirical research suggests that burnout and depression are separate entities, although they may share several 'qualitative' characteristics, especially in the more severe forms of burnout, and in vulnerable individuals, low levels of satisfaction derived from their everyday work. These final issues need further clarification and should be the focus of future clinical research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Terminology as Topic