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Adv Med Sci. 2018 Mar;63(1):192-198. doi: 10.1016/j.advms.2017.11.004. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Limbic brain structures and burnout-A systematic review.

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Neurophysiological Independent Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Lublin, Poland.
Department of Physiotherapy, Ludwik Rydygier Collegium Medicum of Bydgoszcz, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland. Electronic address:
Department of Teleinformatics, Institute of Mechanics and Applied Computer Sciences, Kazimierz Wielki University of Bydgoszcz, Poland; Neurocognitive Laboratory, Centre for Modern Interdisciplinary Technologies, Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń, Poland.
Department of Neuroinformatics, Institute of Informatics, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University of Lublin, Poland.
Mater Dei Hospital, Malta.
Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Mayo Clinic, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Lublin, Poland.


More profound understanding of the relationship between the burnout and the limbic system function can provide better insight into brain structures associated with the burnout syndrome. The objective of this review is to explore all evidence of limbic brain structures associated with the burnout syndrome. In total, 13 studies were selected. Four of them applied the neuroimaging technology to investigate the sizes/volumes of the limbic brain structures of burnout patients. Six other studies were to investigate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis of burnout patients. Based on the results of the studies on the HPA-axis and neuroimaging of the limbic brain structures, one can see great impact of the chronic occupational stress on the limbic structures in terms of HPA dysregulation, a decrease of BDNF, impaired neurogenesis and limbic structures atrophy. It can be concluded that chronic stress inhibits the feedback control pathway in the HPA axis, causes the decrease of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), then impaired neurogenesis and eventually neuron atrophy.


Assessment; Brain; Burnout; Limbic system; Work-related stress

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