BURNOUT – WHAT IS IT?
Burnout may be accompanied by a variety of mental and physical health symptoms as well. If left unaddressed, burnout can make it difficult for an individual to function well in their daily life.
As with any condition, symptoms of burnout change from person to person, however these five stages are commonly observed:
- Honeymoon Phase. When we undertake a new task, we often start by experiencing high job satisfaction, commitment, energy, and creativity.
- Onset of Stress
- Chronic stress
- Habitual Burnout
You may find yourself feeling tired, fatigued, worn out.
Your zest and zing may be compromised
You may find sleep difficult or disrupted
You may be feeling irritable, short tempered
Your focus may be impaired
Physical signs and symptoms of burnout
• Feeling tired and drained most of the time
• Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses
• Frequent headaches or muscle pain.
• Change in appetite or sleep habits
MORE SIMPLY PUT, IF YOU FEEL EXHAUSTED, START TO FEEL THAT YOU HATE YOUR JOB, OR FEEL LESS CAPABLE AT WORK OR IN YOUR LIFE – YOU ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF BURNOUT
• Burnout recovery starts when you prioritise yourself and your health over the work and relationships that are burning you out.
• While taking time off to rest and relax will always be the ideal solution, there are some techniques you can try during your workweek to assist your recovery
• Particularly in our current “viral” situation where we find ourselves working and “non” socialising in the same environment, we may find ourselves feeling claustrophic, confined, limited or oppressed
• Identify and confirm your feelings
• Seek ways to set boundaries around your time, space and activities
• Allow plenty of relaxation time, away from work pressures, or pressures that you are finding overwhelming
• Create “me” time; leave the guilt at the door
• Set clear boundaries between work time, leisure time, family time, domestic duty time
• Walk every day in nature, a park, the beach, an oval with trees and birds, anywhere that you are able to connect with the earth, breath the new freshened air, embrace the solitude or walk with a companion (observing social distancing, of course!!)
• Learn new skills, such as Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness
• Learn new a new hobby that you find relaxing
• Most experts agree that limiting screen time has a positive impact and helps to improve health & wellbeing
• Writing & journaling offers a release of stress & tension
Natural therapists all see illness as an imbalance in our homeostasis – the natural balance tin which our body thrives. This balance is commonly disrupted by a combination of events in our lives
• including environmental impacts such as pollution,
• work & home stressors over which we feel we have no control,
• financial stress
• loneliness & isolation
• feeling crowded or hemmed in; loss of freedom & independence
• inappropriate dietary choices
• excessive alcohol & sugar consumption
• cigarette smoking
• allopathic medication side effects
MANIFESTATION OF ILLNESS DURING BURNOUT
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
• The adrenal fatigue theory suggests that prolonged exposure to stress could drain the adrenals leading to a low cortisol state.
• The adrenal depletion would cause brain fog, low energy, depressive mood, salt and sweet cravings, light-headedness, and other vague symptoms
• Recent research explored the relationship between the limbic system, which is the part of the brain which is concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring) and chronic stress positively attributed chronic stress to the inhibition of the feedback control pathway in the Hypothalamic Pituitary Axis, (1)
HYPOTHALAMIC-PITUITARY-ADRENAL (HPA) AXIS DYSFUNCTION HAS BEEN FOUND IN A HIGH PROPORTION OF CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME (CFS) PATIENTS.
INCLUDES ENHANCED CORTICOSTEROID-INDUCED NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
ATTENUATED DIURNAL VARIATION, AND A REDUCED RESPONSIVITY TO CHALLENGE(2)
What is the relevance of the HPA Axis
• Dysfunction of the of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and altered cortisol metabolism may be involved in Mets (3)
• The main determinants of HPA axis activity are genetic background, early-life environment, and current life stress
• Studies have confirmed states of hypocortisolism in patients chronically exposed to stressful environments, those with unpredictable schedules and in those with traumatic early life experience
• One model suggests that under the influence of chronic stress, the initial adaptive hypercortisolism response transforms over time into a self-preserving hypocortisolism state in order to protect the metabolic machinery, and most importantly, the brain
• Immune system up-regulation is a key component of the metabolic dysregulation seen in hypocortisolism
• One of the most possibly common, overlooked contributor to metabolic disturbances is glycemic dysregulation
• One of the main functions of cortisol is glucose regulation during stressful situations
• When we add to this the fact that visceral adipose tissue (a onsequence of chronic overproduction of cortisol and insulin) produces increasing levels of inflammatory mediators (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) that drive HPA-cortisol production, we can see why it is so difficult to determine which is the cause and which is the effect.(4)
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE IL6 GENE?
IL-6. Interleukin 6 is a well-known pro-inflammatory cytokine. It is produced by macrophages and adipocytes (fat cells). Increased levels of IL-6 are found in obese people. IL-6 crosses the blood brain barrier and can lead to increased body temperature.
WHY IS THIS GENE IMPORTANT?
IL-6 is associated with a whole host of chronic diseases including diabetes, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, IL-6 is associated with many autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Under stress, our cortisol levels rise as do IL-6 levels. Chronically increased IL-6 increases the susceptibility to viral and other infections.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE TNF-a (PRONOUNCED “ALPHA”) GENE?
The TNF-a gene helps regulate a healthy inflammatory response.
WHY IS THIS GENE IMPORTANT?
TNF-a gene regulates the production of TNF-a, ,a chemical messenger (cytokine) of the immunes ystem that plays a role in inflammatory processes.
.Inflammation is the body’s immune system response to attack from various sources such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Aging also results in an increased level of cytokines. TNF-a mobilises white blood cells in response to infections and injuries.
While that response is helpful in the short term, if the inflammatory response becomes unbalanced (too much TNF-a), it can negatively affect the cells, tissues,
and ultimately, the organs.
An optimal inflammatory response requires a healthy balance of TNF-a.
What is adrenal fatigue?
The term adrenal fatigue is used by some medicine practitioners to describe a collection of symptoms, such as:
• body aches
• low blood pressure
• sleep disturbances
• digestive issues
• craving salt
HOW DO WE ASSIST YOUR IMBALANCE?
• Assess the underlying stressors that are at the root cause of your condition by conducting a thorough consultation
• Assess gut health, neruological and detoxification pathways,
• Identify SNP’s involved in metabolism, detoxification, and neural activity
• Identify the SNP’s involved in the processes that drive cortisol
• Reduce glycaemic impact of the diet
• Measure Insulin sensitivty early
• Measure cortisol/DHEA levels in all overweight & obese individuals regardless of age
• Measure Pregnenolone and DHEA
• Set realistic lifetime goals to reduce stress and modify lifestyle contributors
(The sympathetic nervous system may dominate over parasympathetic nervous system in those with COMT, for instance)
CONDITIONS RELATED TO HPA AXIS DYSFUNCTION
INCREASED ACTIVITY OF THE HPA AXIS
• Cushings syndrome
• Chronic stress
• Melancholic depression
• Anorexia nervosa
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Panic disorder
• Excessive exercis (obligate athleticism)
• Chronic, active alcoholsim
• Alchohol and narcotic withdraal
• Diabetes mellitus
• Central obesity (mets)
• Post traumatic stress disorder in children
• Pregnancy (4)
DECREASED ACTIVITY OF THE HPA AXIS
• Adrenal insufficiency
• Atypical/seasonal depression
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• PMT syndrome
• Climacteric depression
• Nicotine withdrawal
• Following cessation of glucocorticoid therapy
• Following Cushing’s syndrome cure
• Following chronic stress
• Postpartum period
• Adult post-traumatic stress disorder
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Asthma, eczema (4)
• 1. YeeKong Chowa JM, Emilia Mikołajewskab,, * DM, d Grzegorz Marcin Wójcike , Brian Wallacef, AE, Marcin Olajossy. Limbic brain structures and burnoutb. Advances in Medical Sciences. 2018(63):192-8.
• 2. Tomas C, Newton J, Watson S. A review of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function in chronic fatigue syndrome. ISRN Neurosci. 2013;2013:784520-.
• 3. Tyrka AR, Walters OC, Price LH, Anderson GM, Carpenter LL. Altered response to neuroendocrine challenge linked to indices of the metabolic syndrome in healthy adults. Horm Metab Res. 2012;44(7):543-9.
• 4. Thomas G. Guilliams Ph.D LEMD. Chronic Stress and the HPA Asix. The Standard. 2010;9(2):12.