An individual’s blood and the level of a hormone in their spit could reveal if they are on the point of burnout, according to researchers at the University of Montreal.
Researchers hypothesized that healthy workers with chronic stress and with mild burnout symptoms would have worse physiological dysregulations and lower cortisol levels. Cortisol levels are often high in people suffering from depression, and tend to be low in cases of burnout.
Too much cortisol can be as bad as too little when it comes to both mental and physical health. Testing for burnout could prevent sufferers being prescribed antidepressant medications that lower cortisol levels; if cortisol is already lower than it should be, this course of treatment could represent a therapeutic mistake.
The results of this pilot study were obtained by testing 30 middle-aged participants. In addition to undergoing routine blood measures that assessed allostatic load, participants collected saliva at home and during a laboratory paradigm. They also filled out questionnaires related to their current stress levels as well as symptoms of depression and burnout.
The research was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010),doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.11.001.
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