It Feels Like Depression, But Don’t Worry, I’m Just Burned Out

A coworker said something interesting to me today: the symptoms of burnout are similar to the symptoms of depression.  So, being completely unmotivated during my planning period today, I googled it.  And I found some interesting results.

She’s right.

And suddenly my life is making a whole lot more sense.  I’ve been tired lately–not just a little weary, but profoundly exhausted.  Feeling like I need a break, a change, an escape.  I have no motivation to do even the simplest tasks for work, home, and grad school.  I’ve been quite depressed, actually, and it’s a comfort to know that my symptoms are likely tied to my circumstances, not to a serious psychological condition.

One article I read discussed the complex interrelationship between burnout and depression.  Apparently the symptoms of burnout develop within three general categories: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.  All three of these categories describe me to a tee right now.  I could go into great detail describing how I feel like my emotional tank is running on empty, I’m detaching myself from long-time friends at work, and my productivity is in the toilet.  The article goes on to say that the people most prone to burnout are those who work in people-helping jobs.  Like police officers, doctors, and of course, teachers.  So here I am, stuck in something that looks, smells, and sounds like depression, but it’s actually burnout.

So is there a solution?  Well, yes and no.  The solution they propose is simple, but for me (at the moment), it’s utterly impossible.  The authors suggest coping techniques that include “maintaining a balanced life with appropriate boundaries, keeping one’s job in perspective, setting realistic job related goals, varying routines, taking breaks, resting and relaxing, taking care of one’s self, being aware of the positive, coping with feelings.”  So there’s my summer to-do list.  I promise to re-evaluate my job, gain a fresh perspective, take care of myself, change up my routine, and delve into the complex tangle of emotions that’s been accumulating over the past eight months.

I just have to make it to June.


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