Are You Suffering Seasonal Depression or Burnout?

seasonal depression

You know the drill. You’ve got a lot on your to-do list, so you don’t have time to socialize or exercise or do much of anything besides work. The days are dark and cold, your energy is low, and everything seems like a chore.

It’s tempting to think you’re suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But there’s another possibility that researchers say is becoming more common: You may be burned out.

Burnout has been around for decades now. The term was coined by Freudian psychoanalyst Herbert Freudenberger in 1970s to describe what he saw as an increasing problem among his patients at the time.

According to Freudenberger, burnout is characterized by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, etc… but seasonal depression and being burned out can share a lot of the same symptoms.

Let’s take a deeper look.

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Are you feeling sad or tired all as of late? Have a lack of motivation? Sleeping more than usual? These are all signs of seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

With the upcoming change of the season paired with the lack of pre-2020 normalcy if our lives now, seasonal depression is actually quite common. It affects roughly five percent of the adult U.S. populate, and can last for up to 40 weeks of the year.

What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder? They can vary between individuals, but most people with SAD experience a number of the symptoms below.

Signs of Seasonal Depression

If you have one or more of these symptoms nearly every day during a particular season for two years or more, you may have SAD:

  • Sadness or lethargy, a sense of heaviness in your arms and legs
  • A lack of energy or motivation
  • Changes in sleep patterns – sleeping more than usual, having trouble falling asleep, waking up earlier than normal for no apparent reason
  • Overeating and weight gain from eating high-carbohydrate foods that lift your mood temporarily followed by guilt about overeating
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy _ including sex _ accompanied by a feeling of emptiness or worthlessness. Your ability to concentrate may also be affected.

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s best to speak with your doctor first and foremost. We’re not doctors (and can’t stress that enough).

What Is Burn Out?

Work-life balance is hard. It’s even harder when you’re an entrepreneur or planning a major career shift. Burnout isn’t that uncommon for the perfectionists out there.

Burnout happens to all of us at one point or another. It can be easy to forget the importance of taking a step back and just relaxing.

WebMD defines burnout as “a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped.” 

What Does Burnout Look Like?

Burnout can manifest itself in a lot of different ways. Maybe you feel like you’re always tired, or perhaps your mind is just always wandering and you’ve gotten nothing done for the past week.

We often mistake burnout as an excuse to slack off, but it’s important we pay attention to the signs so we don’t do irreversible damage to our health and well-being. The psychological impacts of burnout can be big, such as depression and anxiety.

Symptoms of Burnout:

  • Irritability
  • Sadness/Low Mood
  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Self-Esteem Issues
  • Loss of Interest
  • Discomfort in Social Situations
  • Aches and Pains
  • Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Employee Burnout Is More Common Than It Should Be

A recent Gallup survey spoke with more than 7,500 full-time employees, and about 23% fo those workers said they felt burned out more often than not. In additional to those upsetting numbers, another 44% said they felt burned out sometimes.

Seasonal Self Care to Lift Your Spirits

While we’re not doctors, we did want to offer a few suggestions for things you can do at home that might help to lift your spirits. Here are a few activities you may want to try this week to see if your mood improves.

  • Exercise: From yoga to hiking, physical activity is a great way to clear your mind and keep you in good health.
  • Meditation: Get back in tune with your body and breath through the power of meditation.
  • Family and Friends: Take a step away from your to-do list and just enjoy spending sometime friends and family. Whether it’s having dinner together or hanging out for some coffee, relationships are vital when it comes to mental stability. 

None of the above helping? Again, we recommend speaking to your doctor as they can recommend a course of action to help get you back on track. 

Inclusion: Seasonal Depression / Burnout

Whether you’re dealing with seasonal depression or burnout – both can lead to depression if not addressed and treated. 

One topic we’ve mentioned in numerous articles on Women’s Business Daily, is that you shouldn’t be ashamed to go see someone and talk about the issues that are bothering you.

Therapists are trained in helping people cope with the effects of stress and burnout. They can provide you tools, tips, and even different perspectives to help improve your mindset.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife, or just a human in general – it can be easy to prioritize your needs last. And that’s the LAST thing you should do. Your mental health needs to come first.

Remember how the flight attendants would always remind you to put on your air mask first (in cases of emergency). This holds true with your life as a whole.

You have to put yourself first. Take care of yourself first, so that you can be the best version of yourself for those around you.

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Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.

Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site


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