What is clinical depression? It’s a mood disorder that can begin with burnout. A mood disorder relates to the way people feel inside. It has to do with a person’s emotions. A mood disorder occurs when this mood is significantly disrupted for an extended period of time. Therefore, depression has to do with a person’s emotions and mood.
It is believed (though not proven) that mood disorders are caused by imbalances in chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters because they help the brain relay information from one part to another. There are two chemicals that support this function: serotonin and norepinephrine.
However, the brain is only one area of the body where these chemicals are found. This is why a disruption in these chemicals can have negative results in not only the brain, but also the rest of the body. They may affect a person’s appetite, sleep, muscles, digestion, and many other things.
What Is Clinical Depression? It affects about 19 million Americans, though most go unreported and therefore untreated. But if it goes untreated, depression can get worse, last for months or potentially years, and even result in suicide. If you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms of depression, please seek immediate medical help.
Since this site is about burnout, it is important that we address the relationship between burnout and depression.
Burnout begins as a mismatch between a person and his or her job. You are out of sync with some aspect of your employment. It may be that you have more work than you can possibly do. It may be that your values conflict with the values of company policies. It may be that you receive insufficient reward monetarily or you have no satisfaction from your job. It may be that your superiors are unfair, that you lack control over your work, or there is no trust or camaraderie between coworkers. Whatever it is, it creates frustration, causes anger, and may even prompt you to seek other employment.
Since burnout facilitates the development of emotional distress (anger, frustration, lack of compassion, etc.) it has a close relationship to mood disorders such as depression. They are not the same. Burnout is not a form of depression. But if burnout goes unchecked it can lead to clinical depression.
Clinical depression is a prolonged mood disruption caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Below is a list of pages with further discussions about depression. I suggest you take them in the order they are listed.