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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Feb;31(2):216-25. Epub 2005 Sep 16.

Clinical burnout is not reflected in the cortisol awakening response, the day-curve or the response to a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test.

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1
Department of Health Psychology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands. p.mommersteeg@fss.uu.nl

Abstract

Burnout is presumed to be the result of chronic stress, and chronic stress is known to affect the HPA-axis. To date, studies on HPA-axis functioning in burnout have showed inconsistent results. In the present study, a large sample (n=74) of clinically diagnosed burnout individuals, mostly on sick-leave, were included and compared with 35 healthy controls. Salivary cortisol was sampled on 2 days to determine the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and the day-curve. In addition, the dexamethasone suppression test (DST) was applied to assess the feedback efficacy of the HPA-axis. There were no differences observed in the CAR, day-curve or CAR after DST in the burnout group as compared to a healthy control group. Burnout shows overlap in symptoms with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and depression. Therefore, differential changes in HPA-axis functioning that resemble the hypo-functioning of the HPA-axis in CFS, or rather the hyper-functioning of the HPA-axis in depression, might have obscured the findings. However, no effect of fatigue or depressive mood on HPA-axis functioning was found in the burnout group. We concluded that HPA-axis functioning in clinically diagnosed burnout participants as tested in the present study, seems to be normal.

PMID:
16150550
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2005.07.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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