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Amanda Harris
Amanda Harris

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Burnout? Depression? Or both?

*Note: I am not a medical professional. I am a developer who was diagnosed with depression almost two decades ago. If you think you might be suffering from depression, please reach out to any number of resources available. I have included mental health links below. *

In the tech world, we are no strangers to the word “burnout”. Most of us, if not all, have probably even experienced it in some capacity. However, what if it isn’t just burnout? We are living in a stressful time, separated from others. Some of us have dealt with job insecurity and financial woes. So, it makes sense that we could be experiencing more than just burnout.

Theoretically, if someone is experiencing burnout, the recommended course of treatment would be “Take a Break!” This often works. Taking a step away from work and recharging your batteries can significantly improve symptoms of burnout, assuming you can successfully turn off “work-mode.” But what happens if you take a break, and symptoms continue? Maybe symptoms even worsen. There is a chance it might be more than burnout.

Symptoms of burnout are very similar to those of depression. It is pretty clear that depression could go undiagnosed if someone thought they were merely experiencing burnout. One symptom of burnout can actually be depression! Here is a noncomprehensive list of the similar symptoms:

  1. Fatigue/exhaustion

  2. Loss of interest

  3. Feeling useless, worthless, helpless, guilty

  4. Irritability

  5. Trouble concentrating/focusing

  6. Sleep issues: falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping too much

  7. Headaches

  8. Stomach/digestive issues

This past summer, I had the joy (enter sarcastic tone here) of experiencing burnout and depression simultaneously. The difficulties of the pandemic, the separation, and the financial strain weighed heavily on me. Some of it, I had control over: I was working later into the day because I had no commute. I did not have my set “work” time versus my set “rest” time. I know many are guilty of this. But setting a hard cut off time for work made a big difference. Taking a break helped as well.

I had a conversation with my doctor recently, and I think it is very important to share. She said that, given everything going on, people who have never experienced depression have been coming in for treatment because they are having trouble managing symptoms. We are social creatures by nature (yes, even us introverts), and the separation, the financial stresses, and the political climate all weigh on us. It is a lot to handle, and that is okay.

As someone who has dealt with depression since my teen years, I know how hard it can be to manage. I know how hard it can be to ask for help. I say all this because I don’t want anyone to suffer more than they have to. Depression is difficult and mean. But it is treatable. Reach out to your doctor. You do not have to see a therapist as a first step. Your regular family doctor can help diagnosis and treat depression. See if your employer has resources. Some insurance plans even offer online counseling. There are so many ways to get help now. There is no shame in depression, or burnout for that matter. It is okay to ask for help.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, here is a list of suicide hotlines and emergency numbers for many different countries:

For the U.S., the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, or you can text HOME to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.


Webmd: Signs You’re Burned Out:

Webmd: Symptoms of Depression:

Top comments (2)

nolljohnsen profile image
NollJohnsen • Edited

I feel like communication is sort of dead in society nowadays. Issues like the election and everything going on in the world are so dramatic that people are so upset they can't even handle their own problems anymore. Anxiety issues are problematic for everyone, and sometimes it feels like there's no way out of the situation because there are so many anxious people in the world. I started solving this problem with the help of the doc from I began to be more confident, and he taught me how to overcome such issues.

hermeshcg profile image
Hermes Caretta (he/him)

this is one of the most important topics and should be talked everywhere, congrats on bringing this to