Burnout and depression: two entities or one? CCNY provides answer

Irvin Schonfeld

Burnout and depression overlap considerably, according to the latest study on the subject led by psychology Professor Irvin S. Schonfeld of The City College of New York’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and his colleague, Renzo Bianchi, of the Institute of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The findings are based on a survey taken by 1,386 public school teachers, from pre-K to 12th grade across the United States, including New York, during the 2013-14 academic year.

Based on their responses to a burnout measure, the teachers were categorized as belonging to either a burnout or no-burnout group. Less than one percent of the no-burnout group met criteria for a provisional diagnosis of depression, whereas 86 percent of the burnout group met these criteria.

In addition, the teachers in the burnout group were about three times as likely to have a history of depression and almost four times as likely to be currently taking antidepressant medication. Teachers in the burnout group were also more than twice as likely to report a history of anxiety disorders. When burnout and depression were treated as continuous dimensions, they were very highly correlated.

“Our purpose was not to determine the prevalence of burnout or depressive symptoms in a representative sample of teachers,” explain Schonfeld and Bianchi. “Our analytic purpose was to determine the extent to which burnout and depression overlap, both dimensionally and categorically.”

Entitled, “Burnout and Depression: Two Entities or One?” the study appears in the “The Journal of Clinical Psychology.”

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States.

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