Am I Burnt Out or Depressed?

Burnt Out

Stress seems to be as common as aspirin and increasingly sophisticated pain relievers, but a bunch of psychotropic drugs are not what any of us want in order to like life again. Add the question “Am I Burnt Out or Depressed?” to the mix and we have a reason to define our terms. Then we can set out to solve our problems.

“Burned out” is a situation of lost enthusiasm, a physical or emotional/mental collapse due to overwork or prolonged suffering of some sort. The medical profession suffers from it so much that updates about the phenomenon fill the literature aimed at medical professionals. Neurologists experience the problem. So do other types of doctors, and their support staff. The problem is so pervasive that there’s a call to improve physician training. It’s no stretch to imagine how much the rest of us suffer from the problem. The tech industry has had it for years. So do other toxic workplaces.

“Depressed” is the situation of not being able to imagine a better future, let alone to aim for one. Depression even has a “look” caused by physical symptoms of the problem.

Knowing which category your mindset fits into solves one problem, but not the unhappiness itself. There are many ways to repair burnout and depression. One method is called “The Work.” It’s creator, Byron Katie, has taken the world by storm with her stylized effective grassroots method of regaining perspective and happiness. It’s based on realizing that our thoughts are not necessarily based on realities, writing one’s stressful thoughts on paper, and asking yourself four questions 1) Is it true? 2)  Is it absolutely true? 3) How do I react when I believe my emotion? and 4) Who would I be without the thought? The questions and answers are followed by a guided “Turnaround” of the person’s thinking process. The technique is so popular that there’s a site of helpful Byron Katieisms that practitioners of The Work use to pull themselves out of bad moods.

Psychotherapy is a classic method for leaving unhappiness behind, and it’s available at various levels. Social workers do talk therapy, a simple matter of conversation that sorts out ideas and leads to solutions for specific problems. Psychologists analyze the reasons for a client’s stress and teach them more productive responses to given problems. Psychologists can medicate their clients, masking problems or enabling people to function despite them. Each sort of therapist can help a person to realize if they suffer from burnout or depression, and make referrals to mental health colleagues for optimal treatment. Clients decide the direction they will take, and change their sense of direction at will. That is an empowering experience for self-direction. No matter which route a burnout or depression client goes, the self-respect goal is the same. As Byron Katie says, “It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.”