The link between burnout and depression remains unclear. In this study, we compared depressive symptoms in 46 burned-out workers, 46 outpatients experiencing a major depressive episode, and 453 burnout-free workers to test the distinctiveness of burnout as a clinical entity. Participants with burnout and major depressive episode reported similar, severe levels of overall depressive symptoms. The between-syndrome overlap was further verified for eight of the nine major depressive episode diagnostic criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Our findings do not support the view hypothesizing that burnout and depression are separate entities and question the nosological added value of the burnout construct.
Keywords: burnout; depression; methodology; nosology; symptomatology.