Comparative symptomatology of burnout and depression

J Health Psychol. 2013 Jun;18(6):782-7. doi: 10.1177/1359105313481079. Epub 2013 Mar 21.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / diagnosis
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Faculty
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Young Adult