Burn out - 疲劳过度
What is a Burn-out?
A burn-out is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It may occur after several years of heavy working load and responsibilities, combined with a highly stressful environment. This might be linked to the working situation, but also to the personal life.
The most common symptoms will be a change of personality and temper, with extreme difficulties to get motivated and to carry out our duties, negative thoughts, easily irritated or annoyed, hard to concentrate and focus, noticeable change of the sleeping habits, physical complaints such as headaches, stomach or intestinal pain, and low sense of personal satisfaction might also be experienced.
A burnout is a total exhaustion of the body and the mind, but this does not lead to the same complaints for everyone. Therefore a personal and adapted therapy is advised.
What is the TCM vision of a Burn-out?
Within Traditional Chinese Medicine, Burn-out was firstly documented in the “Huang Di Nei Jing” (黃帝內經, 475-221 BC) in the discussion about “fatigue” (疲勞症). This first approach was constantly supplemented by the research and enriched with the hundreds of years of study about the fatigue theory. Internal and external factors can create fatigue, but internal injuries due to overwork is the main cause. This will mainly involve the Spleen, Liver and Kidney Organs within the vision of Chinese Medicine.
Traditional texts will divide “Fatigue” (疲勞症) into four types:
1. Individual Organ fatigue (个别器官疲劳), often occurs in intense work involving only an individual organ or limbs, such as a hairdresser (impact the Kidney or the working arm)
2. Systemic fatigue (全身性疲劳), caused by heavy physical labor, with muscles and joint pain, such as a warehouseman (impact on the lower back, vertebrae, knees)
3. Intellectual fatigue (智力性疲劳), caused by intense mental work, such as a manager (characterized by dizziness, general weakness, lethargy, insomnia, irritability)
4. Technical fatigue (技术性疲劳), mostly in relation to the brain and nervous system, such as a driver (characterized by tremor, anxiety, shaking, spasm)
In addition, there are also several subcategories of fatigue: mental fatigue, nerve fatigue, muscle fatigue, metabolic fatigue, emotional fatigue, acute fatigue, chronic fatigue, visual fatigue and so on.
How can Chinese Medicine help?
By doing a proper TCM investigation, and determining the cause of the internal imbalance, methods such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, moxibustion, auriculotherapy, and sometimes cupping will bring great support and help.
From my clinical experience, patients suffering from a Burn-out will always present a “Liver depression and Spleen deficiency” (肝鬱脾虛). This common TCM Syndrome will also be combined with a specific and personal background (Heart Blood deficiency syndrome (心血虛證), Dampness accumulation (濕困), Spleen-Kidney Yang deficiency (脾腎陽虛) are the most common in the Netherlands, but there are also other syndrome possible).
These combined Syndromes will cause exhaustion, mixed with several of these side effects: feeling heavy and bloated, abdominal pain, depressed mood, frequent sighing, apathy, uncomfortable bowels, dizziness, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, palpitation, anxiety, cold limbs, pale complexion, headaches, depression, etc..
Choosing acupuncture points such as Zu San Li (足三里, St-36), Tai Chong + He Gu (太沖, Liv-3 + 合谷, LI-4), Bai Hui (百會, Du-20), Zhong Wan (中脘, Ren-12), and Nei Guan (內關, Pc-6) with moxibustion is a great start. Adding individual points for each person will still be necessary to cover all aspects of the imbalance.
Herbal formula such as Xiao Yao San (逍遥散) in which we add Suan Zao Ren (酸枣仁) and Huang Qi (黄芪) will be very helpful to regain strength and peace. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (补中益气汤) or Gui Qi Jian Zhong Tang (歸耆建中湯) are also excellent choices.
During a Burn-out condition, steps need to be taken slowly and the total recovery period will be longer than a situation of chronic fatigue. In both cases, Chinese medicine can help and several options of TCM treatments are possible within our practice in Eindhoven.
Do you still have questions?
Are you in a situation of a Burn-out and you are searching for support? Please feel free to contact us for additional information without any obligation. We are happy to tell you more about this. You can also immediately make an appointment and start as soon as possible to improve your condition.
How can I prevent a burn-out?
In the article “The 7 Pillars of Chinese Medicine”, you can find great lifestyle advices about how to maintain a high level of energy and health.
Proper lifestyle habits can have both physical and mental benefits.
Written by Cedric Mallants / Acupunctuur en Traditionele Chinese Geneeskunde therapist
Huang Di Nei Jing (黃帝內經)
WHO international standard terminologies on traditional medicine in the western pacific region