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Burnout Vs Hormone Imbalance: How to Tell the Difference

Hormone Imbalance

The symptoms of a hormone imbalance and burnout often overlap, making it a struggle for sufferers to tell the difference.

This is because the body’s hormones are at the root of both burnout and a hormone imbalance that requires medical attention.

Hormone Fatigue Vs Burnout

Burnout is built on the foundations of our ‘fight or flight’ mode. If the brain perceives a threat, whether it’s real or not, the sympathetic nervous system releases the hormones adrenocorticotropic and corticotropin.  The hormones sudden release leads to the pituitary and adrenal gland to release adrenaline with the stress hormone cortisol. As these hormones make their way around the body, the body experiences rapid heart rate, a spike in blood pressure and shortness of breath. The body can remain in a ‘fight or flight’ state for up to an hour, even after the perceived threat is gone.

If we are continuously met with high levels of stress, the adrenal glands stand ‘on call’, seeing that a high level of cortisol remains in play. This can lead to lengthy bouts of debilitating fatigue that ultimately end in burnout.

Progesterone plays an integral role in sleep hygiene as the hormone calms the brain. Low levels of progesterone interrupts the body’s deep sleep cycle, resulting in ongoing fatigue. Several studies have also found that progesterone stimulates the respiratory system, aiding those with sleep disorders. However, if a person experiences high levels of the hormone, they may find that they are consistently met with extreme levels of fatigue.

How to tell the difference: Keep a sleep diary that not only records the hours of sleep obtained, but the events and feelings of the day. If the day has consisted of spikes in your ‘fight or flight’ mode, then your fatigue may be a symptom of burnout.

If there are no environmental factors that could be contributing towards your fatigue, a blood test can determine if it’s a result of a hormone imbalance.

Burnt Out Appetite Vs Hormonal Reduced Appetite

The body reflects what is going on in the mind. For instance, if we feel nervous, we feel butterflies, if we are scared the heart beats rapidly and so on. If we are under stress, feeling anxious or pressured, this can affect our appetite, both increasing it with cravings for comfort food or suppressing it altogether.

There are several hormone related conditions that impact appetite. Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that work together to create pangs of hunger. If they are out of balance, hunger signals are increased, and a person experiences a surge in food cravings and therefore eat more. Hormones can also slow down the metabolism, impacting the speed the body converts food to energy, leading to weight gain. Low levels of testosterone in men have also shown a reduction in muscle mass, causing a decline in strength.

If you find that your appetite is mostly affected just before, during and after the working day, but eases at the weekends, this may be a sign that the working day is at the root of the issue.

If the symptoms of your ‘out of the ordinary’ appetite is consistent, either at the same every month or even all day every day, hormones may be a hormonal imbalance.

Burnout Hair loss VS Hormonal Hair Loss

There are several environmental factors that can pave the way to burnout however, stress is a prevalent cause. Telogen effluvium is a temporary hair loss that can be sparked by stress.  There are 3 stages of hair growth, anagen (growth), catagen (rest) and telogen (shedding). Telogen effluvium occurs when stress leads the hair to enter the anagen stage early, leading to a person shed up to 300 strands a day. Acute Telogen effluvium lasts approximately 6 months whereas chronic Telogen effluvium can be over a year.

When estrogen and progesterone fall, hair growth slows and becomes thinner. The decrease in estrogen and progesterone causes a rise in the production of androgens, shrinking the hairs follicle and ultimately leading to hair loss.

If you are experiencing hair loss, keep a lifestyle diary thar records everything from diet to sleep to stress. This will aid in determining if the cause of hair loss is through burnout or hormonal changes. If you believe that it may be a hormone imbalance, a blood test can confirm this.

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