Objective: It has been asserted that burnout—a condition ascribed to unresolvable job stress—should not be mistaken for a depressive syndrome. In this confirmatory factor analytic study, the validity of this assertion was examined.
Methods: Five samples of employed individuals, recruited in Switzerland and France, were mobilized for this study (N = 3,113). Burnout symptoms were assessed with the Shirom–Melamed Burnout Measure, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI)—General Survey, and the MBI for Educators. Depressive symptoms were measured with the PHQ‐9.
Results: In all five samples, the latent factors pertaining to burnout’s components correlated on average more highly with the latent Depression factor than with each other, even with fatigue‐related items removed from the PHQ‐9. Second‐order factor analyses indicated that the latent Depression factor and the latent factors pertaining to burnout’s components were reflective of the same overarching factor.
Conclusions: This study suggests that the burnout-depression distinction is artificial.