According to the WHO, burnout syndrome is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when one feels overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, one begins to lose the interest and motivation that led to taking on a particular role in the first place. Estimates suggest anywhere between 4 and 7 percent of the working public can experience burnout syndrome, while workers in certain fields, such as healthcare, tend to experience burnout at much higher rates.
Burnout syndrome shares many features with PTSD, differing mainly in the degree of symptom severity. Both syndromes are maladaptive responses to a traumatic event or extreme stressor. Both are associated with feelings of fear, helplessness, or horror toward the event or stressor. Nightmares and sleep disturbances involving trauma or stressor are common symptoms. Also, patients with PTSD and burnout suffer from increased frequency of depressive symptoms, withdrawal, mood swings, and irritability. Avoidance of any situations that recall the trauma or stressor is a hallmark of PTSD and can lead to problems with work, relationships, and social activities. Substance abuse is a frequent complication as the sufferer attempts to numb the mental anguish caused by these conditions.
Unfortunately, traditional burnout treatment centers around counseling that has variable efficacy and may take a long time to become effective. Given the painful symptoms of burnout and the risk to professional and social relationships it causes, a more rapid and effective treatment strategy is needed. This improvement is particularly robust and long-lasting when combined with CBT.
According to a recent study, “Stressful experiences cause a reduction or retraction of spines and synapses. As a result, the brain is less able to control or regulate the emotional state,”. However, when ketamine is administered, there is an almost immediate increase in the creation of critical spine and synaptic proteins.
In his presentation at the 2021 American Psychiatric Association Virtual Meeting, Richard C. Shelton, MD, the Charles B. Ireland Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Director of the UAB Depression and Suicide Center, discussed the functions and concerns of ketamine.“When you add ketamine to the system, you produce a rapid return and restoration of those spines and synapses. We see an effect within 24 hours,” Shelton continued. “Ketamine has the ability to restore the regulatory control to the brain and helps to theoretically normalize mood.”
While ketamine is not FDA-approved to treat burnout syndrome or PTSD, several clinics worldwide have begun using subanesthetic ketamine infusions successfully to treat and improve the symptoms of burnout rapidly. If you or someone you know is currently suffering from burnout syndrome or PTSD, contact us by clicking here or calling our clinic at (505) 639-4973