For Teachers, Burnout & Depression Often Closely Tied

A new study investigated the association between work burnout and depression among primary school teachers.

Drs. Irvin S. Schonfeld of the City College of New York’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and Renzo Bianchi of the Institute of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, discovered a significant overlap between the conditions.

The researchers analyzed survey results from 1,386 public school teachers, from pre-K to 12th grade across the United States during the 2013-14 academic year. Based on their responses to a burnout measure, the teachers were categorized as belonging to either a burnout or no-burnout group.

The findings were striking as less than one percent of the no-burnout group met criteria for a diagnosis of depression, whereas 86 percent of the burnout group met these criteria.

However, the teachers in the burnout group were about three times as likely to have a history of depression and almost four times as likely to be currently taking antidepressant medication.

Teachers in the burnout group were also more than twice as likely to report a history of anxiety disorders.

Statistically, when burnout and depression were treated as continuous dimensions, they were very highly correlated.

“Our purpose was not to determine the prevalence of burnout or depressive symptoms in a representative sample of teachers,” the researchers stated. “Our analytic purpose was to determine the extent to which burnout and depression overlap, both dimensionally and categorically.”

The article appears in the The Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Source: City College of New York
Depressed teacher photo by shutterstock.