Burnout or Depression

Burnout or Depression?

Curt and Katie talk about the idea that burnout and depression could actually be the same thing. We look at how stigma and a sense of superiority may inhibit clinicians from reporting that they’re actually experiencing depression rather than “burnout.”

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • The blog article that sparked the conversation about why doctors don’t get depressed
  • The idea that burnout and depression may be the same thing
  • The functionality of diagnosis in treatment and how it impacts what one is diagnosed
  • The definitions of burnout and depression and the different schools of thought
  • The place of elitism both in the definition and the treatment of burnout
  • A sense of superiority and or a feeling of higher level on the hierarchy leading to less burnout and depression
  • Katie’s ideas around simple burnout or complicated burnout and the overuse of that word
  • Where the ideas around burnout actually came from and whether it is a sound foundation
  • The medical model divorcing depression from situational factors
  • The concern that pop psychology may have invaded the space
  • The idea that when people have sought the situation that has led to burnout or depression – there is an existential crisis
  • The rationale that it is “worth it” because we have sacrificed to move forward in our career
  • Tips from Freudenberger (who introduced the concept of Burnout) on how to avoid or treat burnout: hiring, work culture, thoughtfulness about work and work day, breaks and vacations, staff development and feeling time, sharing experiences, time off to learn, adequate staffing, balance of physical exercise

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Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below might be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

The Fugitive Psychiatrist Article (Site no longer exists), for a similar article see: Distinguishing Physician Burnout From MDD: It’s Not Trivial

Katie’s concept Sacrificial Helping Syndrome

Brenninkmeijer, V., Van Yperen, N. W. & Buunk, A. P. in Personality and Individual Differences: Burnout and depression are not identical twins: is decline of superiority a distinguishing feature?

Maslach’s Burnout Inventory

Herbert Freudenberger 1974: Staff Burnout

Freudenberger’s books:

Burnout: The high cost of high achievement

Women’s Burnout: For the Woman Who’s Made Commitments to Everyone But Herself

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Conference: Speakers!!

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Call for Sponsors

Relevant Episodes:

Self-Care, Self-Compassion, and Self-Awareness for Therapists

Compassion Fatigue

Managing Vicarious Trauma

The Danger of Poor Self-Care as a Therapist

Toxic Work Environments

All Kinds of Burned Out

The Burnout System

Addressing the Burnout System

Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined 2020 (and TR2019 Virtual Conference)

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, the CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:



Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group





Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/

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