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2013-06-20

How to Know for Sure if You Have Burnout

VialDo you suspect that you might have burnout, but want to know for sure? Or maybe haven’t been feeling like yourself lately and your friends and family have lots of ideas and well-meaning advice for you. Everyone seems to “know” what you have, or at least “knows” what you should be doing. But how do you find out for sure?

There are three ways to find out if you have burnout. They are:

1- Guessing
2- Take a quiz
3- Lab testing

First, the time-honored method of guessing

Most of us don’t the idea of guessing when it comes to our health, but in truth we do it all the time to self-diagnose. When you’re wondering if you (or someone else) may have burnout, you can get a pretty good idea by looking at some common symptoms of burnout.

Keep in mind that if you have burnout, you likely WON’T HAVE EVERY SYMPTOM, and you may not have any of the common symptoms. In truth, even some of my clients with the worst burnout only had one or two symptoms at all, and a few didn’t have any of the common symptoms. That said, the most common symptoms of burnout are:

– Fatigue
– Lack of concentration
– Mood issues (depression, irritability, anxiety, etc.)
– Insomnia
– Hormone imbalance

You may have noticed that the symptoms of burnout can be non-specific and overlap with other ailments. Guessing is an excellent start, but you shouldn’t stop there.

Let’s move on quizzes

Answering questions in a quiz is essentially a more formalized way of guessing. The quiz has several advantages over simple guessing, though. It takes only a few minutes to complete, and you can systematically evaluate your risk of burnout and get a feel for how advanced your stage of burnout may be.

A quick search of the Internet will give you a variety of different quizzes to take. For a quick, easy quiz try the The Burnout Cure™ Burnout Score. Of course, like guessing, this is simply a tool, not a diagnostic test. For a true diagnostic test, you’ll need to do lab testing.

The final word: lab testing

Lab testing is the definitive way to find out once and for all if you have burnout and if so, what stage it’s in. The lab test measures cortisol, a stress hormone. Some practitioners will test the cortisol levels in blood. This gives a single cortisol level that is very useful for detecting extreme levels of burnout (the kind that are a medical emergency and require hospitalization).

However, the blood test isn’t very useful for detecting any but the most extreme levels of burnout for two reasons. The first reason is that a single test doesn’t show the cortisol rhythm throughout the day (a critical indicator of burnout). The second reason is that cortisol levels in blood don’t reflect cortisol levels in the body’s other tissues (which is what you’re trying to find out in the first place).

The best way to find out tissue cortisol levels and cortisol rhythm is a four point saliva cortisol test. The test is painless and super easy. All you have to do is spit into a small plastic vial four times throughout the day and ship it to the lab company. This is the best way to find out for sure if you have burnout, and if so what stage it’s in. With these results an effective treatment plan can be developed that saves you time, hassle, and money.

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