Depression and burnout are common health problems in working populations today. They appear to be interrelated, and the need for their differential diagnosis has been highlighted in many reviews. We analysed the overlap of job-related burnout and depressive disorders, i.e., major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and minor depressive disorder.
We used the population-based 'Health 2000 Study' in Finland. Our nationally representative sample comprised 3276 employees aged 30-64 years. Burnout was assessed with the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey. Diagnoses of depressive disorders were based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
Burnout and depressive disorders were clearly related. The risk of depressive disorders, especially major depressive disorder (12-month prevalence), was greater when burnout was severe. Half of the participants with severe burnout had some depressive disorder. Those with a current major depressive episode suffered from serious burnout more often than those who had suffered a major depressive episode earlier.
This study was cross-sectional.
The concepts of burnout and depression complement each other and cover partly overlapping phenomena. Depressive disorders are related to job-related burnout, particularly when it is severe. A current major depressive episode is likely to be associated with the experience of burnout. When encountering working patients, it is recommended to assess both the occurrence of burnout and of depressive disorders.