top of page
Home: Welcome

Are you depressed or is it burnout?

According to the DSM-V Depressive Disorders are:

characterised by a persistently low mood and loss of interest and pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, as well as a range of other emotional, cognitive, physical and behavioural symptoms, including sleep and appetite disturbance, reduced energy, concentration difficulties, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and suicidal ideation.

*if you find this information triggering,  please stop reading and call for help on
000 or 13 11 14.

You might feel:

  • a depressed mood, or

  • a loss of interest or pleasure in activities


as well as experiencing some of the following:


  • significant and unintended weight loss/gain or change in appetite

  • insomnia/hypersomnia

  • psychomotor agitation/retardation

  • fatigue or loss of energy

  • worthlessness or inappropriate guilt

  • impaired concentration or decision-making

  • recurrent thoughts of death, plan or an attempt at suicide

Burnout is a little different.  Burn-out is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon. It is not classified as a medical condition. (WHO)

Burnout is defined in ICD-11 as follows:

Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;

  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and

  • reduced professional efficacy.

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”  Burnout was also included in ICD-10, in the same category as in ICD-11, but the definition is now more detailed.

As a psychologist who works with other psychologists and working parents, I’ve seen how burnout can impact one's mental health. The WHO lists time pressure, lack of control over work tasks, long working hours, shift work, lack of support and moral injury are important risk factors for occupational stress, burnout and fatigue among health workers.

So is it job or parental burnout?

Is Job Burnout Distinct From Parental Burnout and Depressive Symptoms?

The big difference between burnout and depression is that burnout is context bound. That is, you generally only have depressive symptoms in the context of your job (job burnout) or when it specifically relates to parenting (parental burnout) and you don’t feel these symptoms outside of these situations.

If you have Career / Job Burnout you might find yourself:

  • Taking frequent leave from work (absenteeism)  

  • Attending for work but producing a low output (presenteeism)

  • Procrastination

  • Making avoidable errors at work, or performing below the usual standard 

  • Ruminating about the job outside the workplace

  • Avoiding family/social engagements 

  • Having a short temper

  • Tearfulness

  • Eating too much or too little 

  • Drinking more alcohol than usual or smoking more than usual

  • Using prescription or non-prescription drugs to 'wind down' after work

According to the APS, signs of work-related stress include:

  • Burnout

  • Heightened emotions

  • Irritability/mood swings 

  • Feelings of helplessness or worthlessness 

  • Disconnection or withdrawal from colleagues and others  

  • Concentration / memory difficulties

  • Problems with decision-making.


Parental Burnout

Mikolajczak et al have conducted a number of studies that support the view that parental burnout and job burnout are distinct forms of burnout that each have specific outcomes that cannot be predicted merely by depressive symptoms.


Parental burnout results from a chronic imbalance of risks over resources in the parenting domain.  Parents feel so drained by parenting that merely thinking about their role as parents makes them feel they have reached the end of their tether.

You might find yourself feeling:

Source / further reading:

Mikolajczak, M., Gross, J. J., Stinglhamber, F., Lindahl Norberg, A., & Roskam, I. (2020). Is Parental Burnout Distinct From Job Burnout and Depressive Symptoms? Clinical Psychological Science, 8(4), 673–689.

  • overwhelming exhaustion related to parenting responsibilities

  • like you are not as good a parent as you once used to be

  • ashamed or no longer proud of the parent you have become

  • a loss of pleasure and fulfillment in your parenting parenting role

  • emotionally distant from your child where you do what you have to for their child but nothing more

  • unable to  show emotion or show your child how much you love them.

Need support?

Thanks for submitting. We will be in touch in 24-hours.  For urgent assistance please contact 000 or 13 11 14

Got a Question - Therapy
bottom of page