What is burn-out syndrome?
Studies show that Stress is a normal survival response to a threatening situation. In a dangerous situation, the heartbeat and breathing will accelerate, adrenalin is released into the bloodstream and the muscles will flex. Our body automatically prepares to fight or fly.
When stress takes on chronic forms, or when the amount of stress becomes greater than you can handle as a person, this can lead to physical complaints. It is only when the complaints arise as a result of work-related stress that they speak of a burn-out syndrome. Burn-out syndrome is thus defined as an excessive stress response to the professional environment.
Burn-out syndrome consists of three major characteristics: being emotionally depleted, depersonalization (self-estrangement, the awareness of one's own personality becomes less, but still one keeps abreast of identity) and having a low self-esteem.
Typical symptoms for a burn-out syndrome are:
• memory and concentration disorders
• sleep disturbances
• vague pain complaints
• physical fatigue
• are easily irritated
• being anxious
• being emotionally drained
These symptoms are similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). But unlike CVS or PTSD, a burn-out syndrome is preceded by a prolonged period of work-related stress. According to a survey by Securex (2014), no less than 64% of all employees would suffer from psychological and physical discomforts as a result of work-related stress.
Studies show that burn-out syndrome is associated with the disintegration of the stress-scoping network (amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, insula, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) in the brain.
These areas are involved in determining what is behaviorally important, as well as in steering the sympathetic part (flight and fight response) of the autonomic nervous system.
How can burn-out syndrome be treated?
It is not yet possible to objectify burn-out syndrome by means of biomarkers. The results of various studies are not consistent enough for this. But that burnout is a neurobiological disorder seems undeniable.
A qEEG can map the difference in brain activity between people with burnout and healthy volunteers. This gives us the opportunity to check in time if the qEEG research can objectify burn-out.
With neuromodulation techniques, in particular neurofeedback, an attempt can be made to retrain the disintegrated stress-scoping network. With double cone coil TMS stress reduction can be achieved.
Psychotherapy or medication can be used to prevent a relapse. After all, there is a reason why people have become exhausted. A psychologist can provide insight into this and search for solutions so that people in the future no longer fall into the same pitfalls.