Key theoretical arguments and empirical findings converge to suggest that the burnout construct captures a depressive phenomenon. The reluctance to consider burnout a depressive condition may be due to (a) a neglect of the stress–depression relationship and (b) a difficulty coordinating dimensional and categorical approaches to psychopathology in burnout research. The dimensions and categories constitute two ways of describing (psychopathological) phenomena. Thus, dimensions and categories should be heuristically combined rather than opposed: burnout and depression can be studied both as ‘‘processes’’ or ‘‘end-states’’. Clarifying what burnout actually is matters in terms of conceptual parsimony, theoretical integration, nosological consistency, interventional effectiveness, and public health policy-making. Understanding burnout as a depressive condition is in our estimation a critical step toward clarification.
This work was originally published in European Psychiatry, available at doi:org/10.1016/j.eurpsy.2016.10.008