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Sexes Differ In Their Immune Reactions To Burnout On The Job And Depression

Date:
October 18, 2005
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
Recent findings show that work-related burnout can lead to inflammatory processes, which plays a key role in the initiation and progression of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory-linked illness. Now, researchers find evidence that men and women differ in their inflammatory reactions to work-related burnout and depression.
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WASHINGTON -- Recent findings show that work-related burnout can leadto inflammatory processes, which plays a key role in the initiation andprogression of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory-linkedillness. Now, researchers find evidence that men and women differ intheir inflammatory reactions to work-related burnout and depression

According to a new study from the Journal of Occupational and HealthPsychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA),women who experience job burnout and men who experience depression werefound to have increased levels of two inflammation biomarkers --fibrinogen and C-reactive protein (CRP). Both of these biomarkers havebeen associated in numerous studies, with an increased risk of futurecardiovascular disease and stroke, over and above the conventional riskfactors like blood lipids and glucose.

In the first large-scale study showing a physiological difference inhow men and women react to emotional states, researcher Sharon Toker,Ph.D., candidate of Tel Aviv University and co-authors examinedmicro-inflammation blood markers and levels of burnout, depression andanxiety in 630 healthy, employed women and 933 healthy, employed men todetermine which emotions are more likely to present more problems foreach sex. Blood levels of CRP and fibrinogen concentrations were usedto measure levels of micro-inflammation. Fibrinogen is a blood-clottingfactor that responds to vascular and tissue injury and CRP is a complexset of proteins produced when the body is dealing with a majorinfection or trauma.

Depression in the study is defined as a generalized distressencompassing all life domains and burnout is defined as a depletion ofan individual's energetic resources at work. Anxiety is defined as aperson experiencing negatively-toned arousal.

The women in the study who scored higher on burnout scores had a 1.6fold risk of having an elevated level of CRP (>3), and elevatedlevels of fibrinogen compared with their non-burned out counterparts(after controlling for their levels of depression and anxiety). Whereasthe men in the study who scored higher on depression scores(controlling for their levels of burnout and anxiety) had a 3.15 foldrisk of having an elevated level of CRP (>3), and elevated levels offibrinogen compared to the non-depressed men.

These results suggest that the burned-out women and depressed men areat a greater risk for future inflammation-related diseases, likediabetes, heart disease and strokes compared with their non-burned outand non-depressed counterparts. All these linkages were obtained aftertaking into account a host of physiological factors well known to beassociated with CRP and fibrinogen levels.

Even though burnout and depression affect men and women differently,the health consequences end up being the same, said Dr. Toker, whosuggests that gender difference be included when comparing certainemotions and health risks. "The findings also confirm that emotionalstates do indeed affect a person's risk for developing cardiovasculardisease," said Toker. "This information can be used to help medical andmental health professionals design more appropriate stress managementinterventions for each sex and hopefully prevent long-lasting healthconsequences."

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Article: "The Association Between Burnout, Depression, Anxiety, andInflammation Biomarkers: C-Reactive Protein and Fibrinogen in Men andWomen," Sharon Toker, Ph.D. candidate, and Arie Shirom, Ph.D., Tel AvivUniversity; Itzhak Sharpira, Ph.D., and Shlomo Berliner, Ph.D., TelAviv Sourasky Medical Center; Samuel Melamed, Ph.D., National Instituteof Occupational & Environmental Health and Tel Aviv University;Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 10, No. 4.

Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/releases/TokerEtAl.pdf

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is thelargest scientific and professional organization representingpsychology in the United States and is the world's largest associationof psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Throughits divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works toadvance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means ofpromoting health, education and human welfare.


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American Psychological Association. "Sexes Differ In Their Immune Reactions To Burnout On The Job And Depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051017072636.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2005, October 18). Sexes Differ In Their Immune Reactions To Burnout On The Job And Depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051017072636.htm
American Psychological Association. "Sexes Differ In Their Immune Reactions To Burnout On The Job And Depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051017072636.htm (accessed July 4, 2015).

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