Burnout is evident when a person no longer finds satisfaction in their work (Chen et al., 2019). People who hold positions with little to no decision making power burnout more frequently than people who do have decision making capabilities (Bridgeman, Bridgeman, & Barone, 2018). You cannot however definitively conclude that low job satisfaction is the cause of burnout. Lifestyle choices, such a diet and activity levels as well as life events that have an impact on emotional factors are more clearly linked to burnout (Chen et al., 2019). The difference between burnout and depression is clear when you consider the way the person presents their concern. A person experiencing depression appears to lack any form of care or energy for any situation. A person facing burnout does care, they usually feel helpless, and frustrated about the position they are in.
Lifestyle and physiological factors that I would look into as a Herbalist include adrenal function, nutritional intake and quality of sleep. Obviously each person is unique, so these factors will be explored, while I listen to the person’s own experience, and work on what is most important to them.
Adrenal function and Energy levels.
Adrenal support is vital when facing prolonged stressors to prevent burnout. The adrenal glands sit atop each kidney, encapsulated in fibrous tissue and fat. While each zone of the adrenal gland is responsible for producing its own hormone, each of these hormones are produced to help us cope with stressful situations (Marieb, 2014, p. 664). After prolonged stress, the adrenal glands become fatigued, this is the preamble to chronic fatigue (Bone & Mills, 2013, p. 343). The important step here, is having a conversation with your Naturopath or Herbalist, who are trained to know the signs and prescribe the appropriate herbs to support your adrenal function. Choosing the correct herb, and timing of when to administer the herb requires a deeper understanding of the herbal function.
Nervous System Support.
The nervous system is controlled by neurotransmitters (Marieb, 2014). Imbalances in neurotransmitters affects our ability to adjust to changes in our environment (Bone & Mills, 2013). Neurotransmitters are produced in the gut, from protein that is consumed in the diet (Hechtman, 2012). If the diet is void of the right forms of protein, or the gut is inflamed due to disturbances from food intolerances, prescribed medication, alcohol consumption, stress or microflora imbalance, the production of neurotransmitters will be interrupted. Feelings of anxiety will start to be the controlling emotion when faced with challenges.
A good night’s sleep.
Sleep is an essential condition, where the brain is able to redirect consciousness, and without external stimuli, process information that was dealt with through the day (Bryant & Knights, 2015, p. 341). There is a 40% chance of developing an anxiety disorder with a lack of restorative sleep (Mason & Harvey, 2014). This anxiety results from an imbalance in neuropeptides, namely serotonin and GABA. These neuropeptides are regulated by the limbic region of the brain, and if, due to a lack of sleep, these are put out of balance, it will result in cognitive decline (Bryant & Knights, 2015, p. 343).
Adrenalgland hormone secretion. (2011). Retrieved from http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productid=109&pid=2&gid=8719
Bone, K., & Mills, S. (2013). Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine (2nd ed.): Elsevier Health Sciences U.K.
Bridgeman, P. J., Bridgeman, M. B., & Barone, J. (2018). Burnout syndrome among healthcare professionals. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 75(3), 147-152. doi:10.2146/ajhp170460
Bryant, B., & Knights, K. (2015). Pharmacology For Health Professionals (4th ed.). Chatswood NSW Australia: Elsevier.
Chen, X., Ran, L., Zhang, Y., Yang, J., Yao, H., Zhu, S., & Tan, X. (2019). Moderating role of job satisfaction on turnover intention and burnout among workers in primary care institutions: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 1526-1526. doi:10.1186/s12889-019-7894-7
Hechtman, L. (2012). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine – E-Book. Chatswood, AUSTRALIA: Elsevier.
Koukopoulos, A., & Sani, G. (2014). DSM‐5 criteria for depression with mixed features: a farewell to mixed depression. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 129(1), 4-16.
Marieb, E. N., Hoehn, K. N. (2014). Human anatomy & physiology (Pearson new international edition, Ninth edition ed. Vol. 9). Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
Mason, E. C., & Harvey, A. G. (2014). Insomnia before and after treatment for anxiety and depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 168, 415-421. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.07.020