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Worker burnout is a form of depression in which the worker has little
emotional energy to perform work-related functions. Burnout negatively
affects a worker's attitude toward the organization and often creates problems
in a worker's personal life. For that reason, treating burnout as a form of
depression is a primary way to help workers redefine their attitudes toward
work, make necessary changes in their careers, and energize them to seek
new careers, jobs or, when necessary, additional specialized training.
In terms of the research on treatment effectiveness for depression,
Gallagher-Thompson, Hanley-Peterson, and Thompson (1990) followed
older clients of an age where layoffs and burnout are common for 2 years
after completion of treatment and found that 52% of the clients receiving
cognitive treatment, 58% of the clients receiving behavioral treatment, and
70% of the clients receiving brief dynamic treatment had no return of
depressed symptoms 2 years after treatment. The authors report that these
rates of improvement are consistent with those of a younger population of
depressed clients. However, Huffman (1999) reports high rates of recur-
rence of depression in older workers following treatment. For subjects aged
60 69, the recurrence rate was 65%. Subjects treated with just an antide-
pressant and scheduled office visits to check on their progress did least well,
with a 90% recurrence rate for both age groups ( Huffman, 1999 ).
Lebowitz et al. (1997) found that certain types of psychotherapy are
effective treatments for depression. For many adults, especially those who
are in good physical health, combining interpersonal psychotherapy with
antidepressant medication appears to provide the most benefit. The
authors note that about 80% of adults with depression recovered with this
kind of combined treatment and had lower recurrence rates than with
psychotherapy or medication alone. The authors conclude that the more
cognitively and physically healthy the client, the more likely therapy will
be beneficial.
Lenze et al. (2002) studied the effectiveness of interpersonal treatment
in conjunction with antidepressants with depressed clients. The authors
found improved social adjustment attributable to combined interpersonal
psychotherapy and maintenance medication. While improvement in social
functioning could not be directly related to therapy, maintenance of the
gains made in social functioning seemed directly related to therapy. The
most significant gains reported by the authors were in the areas of inter-
personal conflict role transitions and abnormal grief.
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