Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple spit and blood tests might detect burnout before it happens

Date:
February 22, 2011
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
Your blood and the level of a hormone in your spit could reveal if you're on the point of burnout, according to new research.

Your blood and the level of a hormone in your spit could reveal if you're on the point of burnout, according to research undertaken by Dr. Sonia Lupien and Robert-Paul Juster of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital and the University of Montreal.

Related Articles


In addition to professional and personal suffering, burnout puts distressed workers at further risk of physical and psychological problems if ignored. This is significant, as burnout, clinical depression, or anxiety related to the workplace affects at least 10% of North Americans and Europeans, according to estimates prepared by the International Labor Organization.

"We hypothesized that healthy workers with chronic stress and with mild burnout symptoms would have worse physiological dysregulations and lower cortisol levels -- a profile consistent with burnout," Juster explained. Cortisol is a stress hormone involved in our bodies stress response and naturally as part of our body's daily rhythm. Cortisol levels are often high in people suffering from depression, while it tends 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.

Chronic stress and misbalanced cortisol levels can exert a kind of domino effect on connected biological systems. The term "allostatic load" represents the physiological problems or 'wear and tear' that ensue in these different systems related to risks for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and immune problems. By looking at various factors such as insulin, sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation, an allostatic load index can be constructed and then used to detect problems before they occur. "The strength of the allostatic load model is its flexible inclusion of numerous biological systems that get strained by chronic stress. Complementary use of saliva samples and validated questionnaires allows us to go beyond measuring susceptibilities to, say, metabolic syndromes or heart problems, but also into the realm of mental health," Juster said.

The results of this first pilot study were obtained by testing thirty middle-aged participants. In addition to undergoing routine blood measures that assessed allostatic load, participants were instructed to collect 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.

This research is part of a greater effort to develop personalized medicine in this field. Personalized medicine targets the customization of treatment according to the needs of the individual. "In an effort to advance person-centered approaches in prevention and treatment strategies, we have to investigate the biopsychosocial signatures of specific diseases," Lupien said. "For conditions like burnout where we have no consensus on diagnostic criteria and where there is overlap with symptoms of depression, it is essential to use multiple methods of analysis. One potential signature of burnout appears to be fatigued production of the stress hormone cortisol and dysregulations of the physiological systems that interact with this stress hormone."

Critically, people with burnout are often treated with anti-depressant medications that lower cortisol levels. If cortisol is already lower than it should be, this course of treatment could represent a therapeutic mistake. "The use of an allostatic load index gives researchers and clinicians a window to see how chronic stress is straining the person. In the future, we need studies that track people over time to determine whether this profile of low cortisol and physiological dysregulations is indeed burnout's autograph. If so, science will be one step closer to helping distressed workers before they burn out," Juster noted.

The research was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology and received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Sonia Lupien is Scientific Director of Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital and is an associate professor with the Department of Psychiatry at Universitι de Montrιal. Dr. Lupien is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress. She also holds a Senior Investigator Chair on Sex, Gender and Mental Health from the Canadian Institute of Gender and Health (IGH). Juster is affiliated with the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital and the Centre for Studies on Human Stress. He's a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robert-Paul Juster, Shireen Sindi, Marie-France Marin, Andrea Perna, Alireza Hashemi, Jens C. Pruessner, Sonia J. Lupien. A clinical allostatic load index is associated with burnout symptoms and hypocortisolemic profiles in healthy workers. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.11.001

Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Simple spit and blood tests might detect burnout before it happens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222082734.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2011, February 22). Simple spit and blood tests might detect burnout before it happens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222082734.htm
University of Montreal. "Simple spit and blood tests might detect burnout before it happens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222082734.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins