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Simple spit and blood tests might detect burnout before it happens
Date:2/21/2011

This release is available in French.

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. 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 stres
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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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