Objectives To investigate whether patients with a clinical diagnosis of Burnout show physiological signs of allostatic load, measures of the sympathetic-adrenergic-medullary (SAM) axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis were examined.
Methods We examined patients who had been diagnosed with Burnout by their physicians (n=32) and were also identified as Burnout Patients based on their score within the Maslach Burnout Inventory General Survey (MBI-GS) and compared them with a healthy control Group(n=19) with regard to their allostatic load. Furthermore, we recorded 24 hour ambulatory ECG, nocturnal urinary stress hormone concentration, salivary morning cortisol secretion, blood pressure, and waist to hip ratio.
Results Contrary to our expectations, the results of the present study did not indicate physiological dysregulation within the Burnout Group, although the patients reported to suffer from Burnout symptoms according to MBI. All assessed variables such as heart rate variability, cortisol awakening response, blood pressure, catecholamines and waist to hip ratio were in the normal range; Contrary to the healthy control Group, where physiological dysregulations could be observed.
Discussion Burnout seems not to be associated with physiological dysregulation. These results indicate a difference between the self-reported burnout-symptoms and the measured physiological parameters.
Traunmueller, C., Gaisbachgrabner, K., Lackner. H., Schwerdtfeger, A. (2016). Burnout of the mind – burnout of the body?. Journal of Psychophysiology (accepted)