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  • Writer's pictureRyan Sheridan, NP

Understanding Burnout from An Integrative Perspective

Updated: Feb 24, 2023



 

Key Takeaways


1. Burnout is a consistent feeling of emotional, mental, and even physical exhaustion. 2. Burnout is caused by a number of factors, but the primary cause is chronic stress. 3. Addressing burnout with integrative psychiatry provides the strongest basis for success. 4. Burnout can be overcome!

 

What is burnout?


Burnout is a growing problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Essentially, burnout It is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress.

Burnout can present in a number of ways. Compassion fatigue is when an individual who experiences burnout has used all their energy and has a difficult time expressing empathy or relating to others on a personal level. Burnout can also present as through symptoms that mirror depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health disorders. While burnout is often associated with work-related stress, it can also stem from other areas of life such as relationships, finances, and personal health.

As an integrative provider, I believe that burnout is not just a physical or emotional state, but a reflection of an individual's overall well-being, and therefore, is best addressed with a holistic perspective.

What Causes Burnout?

Burnout is a result of several underlying factors. One of the primary causes is chronic stress. When individuals experience persistent stress, their bodies release high levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Over time, this can result in physical and emotional exhaustion, as well as a loss of motivation and interest in work or other activities.

In addition to chronic stress, burnout can also be caused by other factors such as a lack of control in one's work or personal life, poor work-life balance, and low levels of social support. To address these underlying causes, it is important to identify and address the sources of stress and to develop strategies to manage stress in a healthy manner.

How to Address Burnout?

There are several effective approaches to addressing burnout, including:

Mindfulness


Mindfulness includes activities like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing that bring attention the present. This helps individuals reduce stress and can even improve cognitive function, attention, and focus. With regular practice, mindfulness can help individuals increase their resilience to stress and prevent things like burnout.


Exercise


Regular physical activity has been shown to be effective in reducing stress, improving mood, and boosting energy levels. For burnout, exercise works as an outlet for stress, improving mood through releases of key chemicals in the brain, and by helping increase the size and capacity of the brain.


Sleep hygiene


Ensuring that individuals get adequate sleep is critical in preventing burnout. This includes a healthy bedtime routine, limiting exposure to screens before bed, and creating an environment that mimics what our body naturally needs. As I'm, sure you know, without enough sleep, everything else tends to become more difficult.


Social support


Having and maintaining a strong social support system can is key to a long life, according to some of the latest studies about human longevity. Spending time with loved ones, participating in community activities, and volunteering can all help individuals develop a strong social support system that helps prevent burnout. Social supports are resources that provide colloquial therapy, act as cheerleaders, and help us feel connected with the world around us in meaningful ways.


Professional support


Working with an integrative provider can help individuals identify and address the underlying causes of burnout through diagnostic tools like labs. It is also important to develop effective coping strategies. As an integrative provider, I provide individualized support that is customized to the needs of each individual.


How integrative psychiatry can help with burnout

Integrative psychiatry recognizes the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. It combines conventional psychiatric approaches with evidence-based complementary therapies to provide a comprehensive and personalized approach to care.

In the context of burnout, integrative psychiatry can help individuals understand the root causes of their stress and develop a personalized plan to manage it. This may involve:


Assessing the individual


An integrative provider will take a comprehensive look to understanding the individual's symptoms and stressors. This includes a thorough evaluation of the individual's physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

Using a combination of treatments


Integrative providers may recommend a combination of conventional treatments such as therapy and medication, as well as complementary therapies such as supplementation, yoga, or guided meditation, exercise planning, and nutrition counseling. As you may remember, with integrative psychiatry, its more like a smorgasbord with lots of treatment options.

Addressing underlying physical conditions:


Chronic stress can impact physical health, and vice versa. Underlying physical conditions can contribute to burnout by predisposing us to anxiety, depression, and inability to manage stress. Integrative providers can assess and address these conditions by utilizing lab work and other diagnostic tools in order to determine if there are treatments needed.

Promoting lifestyle changes


Integrative providers can work with individuals to develop a personalized plan to improve their lifestyle and routine, which may include healthy changes to diet, exercise, and sleep habits.

Supporting spiritual well-being


Integrative providers recognize the importance of spiritual well-being and may incorporate mindfulness and meditation practices into treatment as well as encourage other spiritual practices based on patient preference.


The goal of integrative psychiatry is to help individuals achieve optimal well-being by addressing the root causes of their symptoms and empowering them to take an active role in their own care. By taking a holistic approach to burnout, integrative psychiatry can help individuals overcome burnout and build a foundation that wards off future episode of burnout.


Conclusion


Burnout is complex, and stems from a number of issues. Effective burnout treatment requires a comprehensive approach. Integrative psychiatry offers individuals a personalized and holistic approach to care that recognizes the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. By addressing the underlying causes of burnout and utilizing a combination of effective strategies, individuals can effectively manage stress, optimize their health, and prevent burnout.

I am only an email or text away. Please feel free to reach out with questions about integrative psychiatry or if you're looking to find a new provider. I can be reached at ryan@proactivepsychiatry.com. Feel free to repost any part of my blog, just be sure to give me a backlink!




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