Work Burnout Linked to Atypical Depression

New research suggests a strong link between being disenchanted by work and depression.

City College of New York psychology professor Dr. Irvin Schonfeld studied more than 5,500 school teachers to estimate the prevalence of depressive disorders in workers with burnout.

He discovered 90 percent of the subjects identified as burned out met diagnostic criteria for depression.

The study also examined the overlap of burnout with the atypical subtype of depression, or depression characterized by improved mood in response to positive events.

Additional symptoms of atypical depression include increased appetite or weight gain, sleepiness, or excessive sleep, marked fatigue or weakness, and extreme sensitivity to rejection.

Features of atypical depression were observed in 63 percent of the burned-out participants with major depression.

“The study suggests that the burnout– depression overlap has been largely underestimated,” said Schonfeld, whose collaborators included University of Franche-Comté psychologists Drs. Renzo Bianchi and Eric Laurent.

“Atypical depression may account for a substantial part of this overlap. Overall, our findings point to depressive symptoms and depressive disorders as central concerns in the management of burnout.

“The clinical research on treatments for depression offers solutions that may help workers identified as burned out.”

A paper on the study is published in the International Journal of Stress Management.

Source: The City College of New York