Notes on Burnout Syndrome

In this article our neuropsychologist, Dr. (Ph.D.) Manuel Domingos, addresses the topic of bournot syndrome in symptomatic , diagnosis and treatment aspects.

"She burn out love. As soon as straw out buneth" 
The Passionate Pilgrim, William Shakespeare (1599)

Since Freudenberger (1974) paper, entitled "Staff burnout", the burnout syndrome began to be intensively investigated with two objectives: to understand it better, by means of diagnosis, and create techniques for therapeutic intervention. Initial work undertaken in the U.S., but quickly spread to all countries where cases equal or similar to those detected by Freudenberger and his colleagues began to be referenced. But put up, and puts up the question: are we facing something new? Or burnout is just an old entity with new "clothes" and other name other than those already applied to similar situations (eg "neurasthenia" by Beard in 1880)? Well, this discussion would be interesting but not the interest, perhaps, that here the reader seeking to know what is, after all, this very disabling that, at some point in our lives and under certain circumstances, we can achieve and condition our modus vivendi "in a very negative and in all its aspects, labor, social, and / or family.

Although we focus on burnout, said, classic work situations arising after traumatic and time dragged on, causing chronic stress potentiated by situations of acute stress, distress type (corresponding to "bad stress", since there may be a "good stress" happens when we wait anxiously good news and what is called eustress), I tell you that conflictual family situations or not reaching a goal long prepared, are (also) Sources of burnout.

But let's general theory of burnout (with a focus on the causes labor). This term, meaning and translating it according to its impact on medical and psycho-social "burn to exhaustion". Burning in the figurative sense, of course. It indicates that the collapse ensues after the use of all energy, bio-psycho-social, after prolonged exposure to situations which are harmful to the integrity of the "Self". Clarifying and simplifying the concept, say that burnout is a syndrome, multidimensional, encompassing the emotional exhaustion, dehumanization, characterized by emotional attitudes of removal for persons with whom there is usually daily interactions (superiors, colleagues, customers and including family in the worst cases), reduced productivity or even zero tendency to conflict and heightened irritability, sleep disturbances, neurovegetative changes (stomach pains, tachycardia, respiratory disorders, dizziness, numbness of the extremities / members upper and lower ......) and cognitive changes (with an emphasis on attention and memory, which are altered in a fringe majority of cases). In short, burnout ensues, in most cases, a process of occupational stress leading to rupture psychophysiological, temporary or permanent, of individuals.

In general and as I left behind foresee all activities can be potential causes of a process of burnout, although some professions are more likely to unleash the power, due to its high physical demands and psychological. We emphasize, as examples, teachers, health professionals (in the areas of medicine, psychology and nursing), security forces and banking.

But how is it diagnosed and therapeutically intervening in burnout? Today we have a variety of means that enable us to diagnose this picture, so disabling. Thus, assuming a dynamic interdisciplinary use, in addition to careful clinical interview, scale detection and characterization of symptoms, techniques that allow us to show signs of dysfunction, and (always) with the family doctor or the general practitioner, to carry out this analytic explorations, ECG and / or imagiology, to exclude other causes or concomitants of organic type. Of course, the collaboration with psychiatry is essential. These experts know how to medicate patients, reducing their complaints and preparing them for the psychotherapeutic process adapted to each case. These, regardless of orientation followed by a psychotherapist, should (so emerging) attack and quickly eliminate the "semiological colored" in the clinical presence, so that we can "pay back" the patient in optimal conditions, its niche bio-psycho-social, restoring him the previous context / pre-burnout or helping them to develop adaptive mechanisms in situations more stressful, allowing you to be back again, a productive and stable element.

Manuel C. R. Domingos (Neuropsychology and Psicopterapeuta)

About the Author

Dr. (Ph.D.) Manuel Domingos Degree in Clinical Psychology by ISPA, a Master of Neuropsychology, by Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), and Ph.D. in Psychology (Neuropsychology), University of Aveiro (since 2006). Is Visiting researcher of the Research Unit of the University of Aveiro, Visiting researcher Experimental Neuropsychology Unit, University of Bordeaux, Coordinator of the Neuropsychology of Intervention CHPL, University Professor
(University Lusíada) Neuroscience, Neuropsychology, Psychopathology and Assessment psychological, one of the faculty of the Masters in Clinical Psychology (University Lusíada) and Neuropsychology (Catholic University of Lisbon). He is President of the Portuguese Society of Neuropsychology, President of Institute of Mind and authored over 120 scientific papers and publications in the areas of Neuroscience and Psychology.

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