Executive / Professional Burnout
People suffering from burnout generally have these identifiable characteristics: (1) chronic fatigue; (2) anger at those making demands; (3) self-criticism for putting up with the demands; (4) cynicism, negativity, and irritability; (5) a sense of being besieged; and (6) hair-trigger display of emotions.
At its core, burnout emerges when the demands of a job outstrip a person’s ability to cope with the stress. People in careers focused on caregiving — teachers, nurses, social workers, and physicians — report the most prevalent rates of burnout, but the condition ultimately doesn’t discriminate among call center representatives, professional athletes, or CEOs. Over time, jobs that require too much of employees will cultivate feelings of negativity and hopelessness as people struggle to meet impossible deadlines, deal with rude customers, or cope with the emotional toll of professional caretaking.
It’s a common misconception that the culprit behind burnout is simply working too long or too hard — research indicates that other factors, both individual and organizational, can be just as detrimental. For example, a comprehensive report on psychosocial stress in the workplace published by the World Health Organization identified consistent evidence that “high job demands, low control, and effort–reward imbalance are risk factors for mental and physical health problems.” Ultimately, burnout results when the balance of deadlines, demands, working hours, and other stressors outstrips rewards, recognition, and relaxation.
Adrenal Burnout Syndrome
(Dr. Dana Krete, Prive-Swiss CT Naturopathic Physician specializes in treatment of Adrenal Fatigue)
The most common complaints seen in doctors’ offices today include fatigue, depression, anxiety, allergies, candida and hypoglycemia. These and many other symptoms can often be traced to a poorly understood syndrome, referred to as the adrenal burnout syndrome.
Burnout can best be defined as a major breakdown in the energy producing systems of the body. Burnout differs from simple fatigue in that one can recover from fatigue with a good night’s sleep or a vacation, whereas burnout cannot be corrected simply with rest.
Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout can occur in varying degrees of severity. When burnout is severe, its effects are devastating for the individual and often for family and close associates. The principal physical symptom that initially identifies burnout is overwhelming fatigue upon awakening after eight to ten hours sleep or after a short nap. In short, the individual feels exhausted.
Depending upon how severe the burnout problem is, many other symptoms that may occur include:
- Distaste for meat protein due to severely impaired digestion.
- Craving for sweets due to a need for a quick energy source.
- Lowered resistance to disease and/or chronic infections due to an impaired immune response.
- Changes in appetite, often alternating between a ravenous appetite and no appetite at all.
- Symptoms of hypoglycemia and/or diabetes due to decreased or increased glucocorticoid activity, respectively.
- Low blood pressure. Infrequently, a fast oxidizer will experience high blood pressure.
- Fluctuation in weight, due to excessive protein breakdown and increased fat deposition.
- Inability to adequately cope with daily life stresses.
- Reduced work performance.
- Loss of initiative and a sense of hopelessness.
- Disinterest in sex, due to an excessive fight-or-flight response.
- With worsening burnout, disinterest in all aspects of one’s life.
- Mental depression that can lead to despair and suicidal thoughts.
- Fears, phobias, agoraphobia and/or anxiety, due to an excessive fight-or-flight response.
- Disinterest in one’s appearance.
- Psychological withdrawal, due to an excessive fight-or-flight response.
- Feeling that one’s life is empty and lacks purpose.
- Inability to concentrate or ‘spaciness’.
- Attraction to stimulants, leading to a wide variety of addictions.
- In children: hyperactivity, behavioral disorders, attention deficit and failure to thrive syndrome in severe cases.
- In teenagers: delinquency, drugs, alcoholism and suicidal thoughts.
Adrenal exhaustion can result when we try to do too much in too little time and don’t allow sufficient space in our schedules for essential relaxation, restful sleep and the time to eat healthy foods.
The adrenals, located at the top of each of the kidneys, release hormones including adrenaline and cortisol (the long-term stress hormone).
“When faced with chronic stress, your body shifts from making adrenaline to cortisol,” he says. “Adrenal burnout occurs when you lose your ability to make protective cortisol which leads to exhaustion and fatigue.”
Common symptoms, he cites, include tiredness, weakness, listlessness, caffeine, sugar and salt cravings, and low blood pressure and light-headedness when standing up.
Irritability, nervousness and low mood as well as feeling unusually cold, stomach cramps and nausea can also be signs of adrenal burnout.
“A person may awake feeling tired even after sleeping eight or more hours. He or she may not feel completely awake until later in the morning or after consuming caffeine. Then energy levels dip during the afternoon, but the person may get a second wind between 6pm to 11pm, and won’t feel tired enough for sleep until much later.”
It is critical to realize that all the above symptoms are related to a severe energy deficit. Many of the above symptoms represent various adaptations to burnout. That is, the person is compensating for his lack of energy by changing his behavior. One may be attracted to various stimulants and/or drugs, to relieve his depression and provide him with a semblance of feeling alive and well.
For almost 18 years now, the Privé-Swiss Clarity Executive Renewal Program has been successful with offering a comprehensive treatment program for ALL aspects of burnout and adrenal fatique. Our program is based on the belief that “stress” is a chronic, debilitating condition that affects all apsects of an individual’s life: psychological/emotional/physical/spiritual. Contact us today to set up a phone consultation on the many interventions and services we offer to individuals struggling with this multi-faceted health challenge.
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