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Health Psychol. 2006 Mar;25(2):243-8.

Cortisol deviations in people with burnout before and after psychotherapy: a pilot study.

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Department of Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Burnout is characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of reduced competence. These complaints may be reflected in disturbances in the main stress regulatory endocrine system: the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. In this study, the HPA-axis hormone cortisol was sampled after awakening and during the day in 22 participants with clinical burnout and in 21 healthy controls. The cortisol level after awakening was shown to be significantly lower in the burnout group as compared with the control group. Cortisol levels during the day did not differ. The same sampling procedure was repeated after 14 sessions of psychotherapeutic intervention. The intervention led to a significant reduction in complaints and to an increase of the initially lowered morning cortisol levels. No consistent correlations, however, between the changes in subjective complaints and the change in cortisol parameters were found.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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