What is the Difference Between Burnout and Depression?

S Sen. NEJM 2022; 387: 1629-1630. Is It Burnout or Depression? Expanding Efforts to Improve Physician Well-Being

Key points:

  • “This growing attention has helped to reduce the stigma associated with burnout, highlighting the health care system, rather than the individual, as the primary driver of the problem.”
  • What is burnout? “One review identified 142 different definitions of physician burnout in 182 studies.3 …the most commonly used is the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which assesses continuous scores for three domains: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced sense of personal accomplishment.”
  • There is a lot of overlap with depression especially with emotional exhaustion. However, depression is still stigmatized as due to individual weakness. “Work-related stress is the primary driver of depression among physicians. A stark illustration of this dynamic is the fact that the prevalence of depression among training physicians before they enter residency is similar to that among young adults in the general population, but depression rates quintuple immediately after residency begins.”
  • “Whether burnout is meaningfully distinguishable from depression, the argument that depression and burnout are caused by fundamentally different precipitants is unsupported by the evidence to date”

My take (borrowed from the author): “Crucially, identification and treatment of depression can help reduce the risk of suicide among physicians. Unfortunately, when we encourage clinicians to consider themselves burned out rather than depressed, they tend not to seek or receive the individual-level interventions that can improve well-being.”

Related NPR Story (11/11/22): Study: Mindfulness-based stress reduction works as well as a popular anxiety drug. This report is based on the following reference:

IBD -Briefly Noted: Intestinal U/S and Anxiety/Depression Not Worsening Pediatric IBD Activity

EA van Wassenaer et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 783-787. Open Access PDF: Intestinal Ultrasound in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Promising, but Work in Progress

Key points from this review:

  • Research has shown that IUS has the potential to be a valuable additional point-of-care tool to guide treatment choice and to monitor and predict treatment response, although evidence of its accuracy and value in clinical practice is still limited
  • The utility may be operator-dependent as well

My take: Due to low upfront costs, IUS would be appealing adjunct to current monitoring. However, one could envision IUS leading to more downstream studies (& costs), especially if its sensitivity and specificity are not very high.

EJ Brenner et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 728-733. Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Are Not Associated With Future Pediatric Crohn’s Disease Activity

In this internet-based cohort of 9-17 yr olds (n=159, 96% white), the authors found no association between baseline PROMIS Pediatric anxiety score and subsequent sCDAI (change in sCDAI for 3-point change in PROMIS Pediatric −0.89; 95% CI −4.81 to 3.03). This study is in contrast to studies in adults which have shown a bidirectional relationship between anxiety/depression and IBD activity.

My take: It is difficult to know with certainty whether anxiety/depression may trigger IBD activity; more studies are needed. Treatment of mental health is important regardless of its effects on IBD activity.

Related blog posts:

Empathetic Phone Calls

This interesting study (MK Kahlon et al. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online February 23, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0113. Effect of Layperson-Delivered, Empathy-Focused Program of Telephone Calls on Loneliness, Depression, and Anxiety Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic) showed empathetic phone calls to adults (63% were 65 and older) reduced loneliness and depression.

Methods: Sixteen callers, aged 17 to 23 years, were briefly trained in empathetic conversational techniques. Each called 6 to 9 participants over 4 weeks daily for the first 5 days, after which clients could choose to drop down to fewer calls but no less than 2 calls a week.

Key finding: A layperson-delivered, empathy-oriented telephone call program reduced loneliness, depression, and anxiety compared with the control group and improved the general mental health of participants within 4 weeks. 

Expecting Change in Eosinophilic Esophagitis Treatment

A recent study (EJ Laserna-Mendieta et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2903-2911. Full text: Efficacy of Therapy for Eosinophilic Esophagitis in Real-World Practice) highlights the disconnect between clinical practice and outcomes.

  • Methods: This study relied on the multicenter EoE CONNECT database—with 589 patients.
    • Clinical remission was < 50% in Dysphagia Symptom Score; any improvement in symptoms = clinical response.
    • Histologic remission was eosinophil count below 5 eosinophils/hpf; 5-14/hpf = histologic response.

Key findings:

  • Topical steroids were most effective in inducing histologic remission: 54.8% compared to 36.1% for PPIs and 18.5% for empiric elimination diet; histologic remission and response was 67.7%, 49.7%, and 48.1% respectively.
  • Topical steroids were most effective in inducing clinical and histologic remission or response (in 67.7% of patients), followed by empiric elimination diets (in 52.0%), and PPIs (in 50.2%).
  • However, PPIs were the first-line treatment for 76.4% of patients, followed by topical steroids (for 10.5%) and elimination diets (for 7.8%).

My take: This data (and others) indicate that topical steroids are most effective pharmacologic therapy; at some point, I expect that they will become the most frequently used.

Related blog posts:

“Layering two less specialized masks on top of each other can provide comparable protection [to N95]. Dr. Marr recommended wearing face-hugging cloth masks over surgical masks, which tend to be made with more filter-friendly materials but fit more loosely. An alternative is to wear a cloth mask with a pocket that can be stuffed with filter material, like the kind found in vacuum bags.”

Unrelated from NY Times: One Mask Is Good. Would Two Be Better? (Yes)

Alterations in Microbes and Impaired Psychological Function in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Briefly noted: F Humbel et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2019-2029. Association of Alterations in Intestinal Microbiota With Impaired Psychological Function in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Remission

In a prospective study with 171 adults with IBD in remission, the authors combined

  1. measures of psychological comorbidities and quality of life (QoL)
  2. microbial analysis with 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing

Key findings:

  • Microbiomes of patients with higher perceived stress had significantly lower alpha diversity
  • Anxiety and depressive symptoms were significantly associated with beta diversity

My take: This study adds another dimension to the idea of bidirectionality between psychological well-being and course of inflammatory bowel disease.  The microbiome may directly influence both psychological well-being and IBD activity.

Related blog posts:

IBD Updates: Depression and Crohn’s Disease, Blood Tests in Pediatric IBD

LW Gaines et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 423-8. In this study with 3307 adults with Crohn’s disease (CD) and baseline demographics, CD activity and an affective-cognitive index of depression, the authors used structural equation models to determine the likelihood of whether depression triggers CD activity or whether CD activity triggers depression.  Key findings: “The hypothesis that an affective-cognitive depression predicts patient-reported exacerbation of CD is 218 times more likely to account for the data than the converse.”   (Depression is likely to increase CD activity rather than be due to CD activity).

JJ Ashton et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 469-76. Among 256 patients (dx 2013-17) in Southhampton-PIBD database, there were 151 with CD, 95 with UC and 10 IBD-unclassified.  Key findings:

  • 9% presented with all normal blood tests (tests analyzed if available: CRP, ESR, Albumin, platelets, packed cell volume, wbc, ALT)
  • Normal labs were more common with UC compared to CD: 14.4% vs 5.3%

RC Ungaro et al. AP&T; 2020; DOI: 10.1111/apt.15685.  (Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference).  Systematic review with meta-analysis: efficacy and safety of early biologic treatment in adult and paediatric patients with Crohn’s disease. A total of 18 471 patients were studied, with  a median follow-up of 64 weeks (range 10-416). Meta-analysis found that early use of biologics was associated with higher rates of clinical remission (OR 2.10 [95% CI: 1.69-2.60], n = 2763, P < 0.00001), lower relapse rates (OR 0.31 [95% CI: 0.14-0.68], n = 596, P = 0.003) and higher mucosal healing rates (OR 2.37 [95% CI: 1.78-3.16], n = 994, P < 0.00001) compared with late/conventional management. Conclusions: Early biologic treatment is associated with improved clinical outcomes in both adult and paediatric CD patients, not only in prospective clinical trials but also in real-world settings.

RS Boneh et al. Dietary Therapies Induce Rapid Response and Remission in Pediatric Patients With Active Crohn’s Disease Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol (online April 14, 2020, in press) Thanks to KT Park’s Twitter feed for this reference.

  • Methods: We collected data from the multicenter randomized trial of the CD exclusion diet (CDED). We analyzed data from 73 children with mild to moderate CD (mean age, 14.2±2.7 y) randomly assigned to groups given either exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN, n=34) or the CDED with 50% (partial) enteral nutrition (n=39). Patients were examined at baseline and at weeks 3 and 6 of the diet. Remission was defined as CD activity index scores below 10 and response was defined as a decrease in score of 12.5 points or clinical remission. Inflammation was assessed by measurement of C-reactive protein.
  • Results: At week 3 of the diet, 82% of patients in the CDED group and 85% of patients in the EEN group had a dietary remission (DiRe). Median serum levels of C-reactive protein had decreased from 24 mg/L at baseline to 5.0 mg/L at week 3 (P<.001). Among the 49 patients in remission at week 6, 46 patients (94%) had a DiRe and 81% were in clinical remission by week 3. In multivariable analysis, remission at week 3 increased odds of remission by week 6 (odds ratio, 6.37; 95% CI, 1.6–25; P=.008) whereas poor compliance reduced odds of remission at week 6 (odds ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.012–0.46; P=.006).
  • Conclusions: For pediatric patients with active CD, dietary therapies (CDED and EEN) induce a rapid clinical response (by week 3).

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition


IBD Depression Screening

LM Mackner et al. JPGN 2020; 70: 42-47. Bonney Reed, our psychologist at GI Care for Kids is one of the authors as well.

Key points:

  • Recommendation #1: Screen adolescents with IBD ages 12 and older for depression annually.
  • Recommendation #2: Screening Measures
    Age 12 years: Moods and Feelings Questionnaire, Short Form (MFQ-SF) ; age 13: Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)
  • Recommendation #3: Evaluate youth who endorse SI (eg, PHQ-9 item # 9) further
    per clinic protocol or via a suicide screener, such as the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS)
  • Recommendation #4: Educational Resources. Provide patients, families, and other clinicians with educational resources as needed. An additional aim of our tool kit is to give GI providers resources to assist patients, families, and other clinicians
  • Resources for modules 1-4, Supplemental Digital Content http://links.lww.com/MPG/B721

My take (borrowed from authors): “Implementing depression screening in a busy clinic may seem like a daunting task and is likely to require changes in workflow and procedures. Nonetheless, optimal IBD care treats all aspects of health, and identifying depression symptoms, that often go undetected and can affect IBD outcomes, benefits patients, families, and providers.”  In our office, we have implemented screening and there is now a smartform available in EPIC.  We are fortunate to work closely with psychologists who can help when there is an abnormal screen.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Integrating Mental Health into Pediatric IBD Care

WE Bennett, MD Pfefferkorn. JAMA PediatrPublished online August 19, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2669

Full Link: Editorial: “Mental Health Screening as the Standard of Care in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease” Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference.

An excerpt:

Butwicka and colleagues1 have published a fascinating, landmark cohort study in this issue of JAMA Pediatricsassessing the prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses and symptoms among children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in Sweden. The authors used a rigorous design that compared a cohort of more than 6000 pediatric patients with IBD with hundreds of thousands of healthy controls, as well as a separate cohort comprising the patients’ own siblings who did not have IBD. Butwicka et al1 computed hazard ratios for any psychiatric disorder, as well as for multiple specific disorders, and found a hazard ratio of 1.6 for any psychiatric diagnosis when comparing children with IBD with healthy controls. The statistical analysis is stellar and represents the best data we currently have on the intersection of pediatric IBD and mental health. Their study highlights a substantial risk in a vulnerable population and should trigger revision of guidelines and allocation of resources to support widespread screening and treatment for these dangerous conditions.

Related Article:

A Butwicka et al. JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 19, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2662 

Full Text Link: Association of Childhood-Onset Inflammatory Bowel Disease With Risk of Psychiatric Disorders and Suicide Attempt

Related blog posts:

Crater Lake, OR

“We Have Ruined Childhood” and Possible Link to Depression, Anxiety and Suicide

A recent NY Times commentary (We Have Ruined Childhood) details the rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide and suggests a link between these mental health issues and a lack of childhood free play.

An excerpt:

No longer able to rely on communal structures for child care or allow children time alone, parents who need to work are forced to warehouse their youngsters for long stretches of time. School days are longer and more regimented…

The role of school stress in mental distress is backed up by data on the timing of child suicide. “The suicide rate for children is twice what it is for children during months when school is in session than when it’s not in session,..

For many children, when the school day is over, it hardly matters; the hours outside school are more like school than ever…

The areas where children once congregated for unstructured, unsupervised play are now often off limits. And so those who can afford it drive their children from one structured activity to another. Those who can’t keep them inside. Free play and childhood independence have become relics, insurance risks, at times criminal offenses

Many parents and pediatricians speculate about the role that screen time and social media might play in this social deficit. But it’s important to acknowledge that simply taking away or limiting screens is not enough. Children turn to screens because opportunities for real-life human interaction have vanished.

Related blog posts:

Depression Screening for Pediatric Patients with IBD

Recently, we had a morning conference to review depression screening for pediatric patients with IBD.  This lecture was led by Chelly Dykes, MD. Many of these slides were adapted from resources developed by the (ImproveCareNow) ICN Psychosocial Professionals group.

We have started depression screening with a subset of our patients and soon will start screening all children 13 years and older.  When this is working well, younger ages may be targeted as well.

Some of the key points:

  • Depression/anxiety are common, particularly in patients with inflammatory bowel disease
  • National rates of suicide have been increasing
  • Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicidality
  • We are fortunate to work closely with two psychologists, Bonney Reed-Knight and Jessica Buzenski

Some of the slides are listed below.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.