Chronic Stress, Exhaustion and Uncertainty Can Take A Toll
The coronavirus pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of life as we know it. These sudden and dramatic shifts in our lives have, understandably, taken a toll on people’s mental, emotional and physical health. This is especially true for those who have been on the front lines – healthcare professionals, delivery drivers, grocery store employees and postal workers just to name few.
But even those who are able to do their jobs at home, as well as, people who are out of work, are experiencing increased stress. Because of the pandemic, we no longer have a sense of what the coming weeks, months, even years might look like. The exhaustion and mounting uncertainty of when life will get back to “normal”, and some new responsibilities like homeschooling or trying to communicate electronically take their toll as well.
Early Warning Signs of Burnout Syndrome
Covid-19 has created a “perfect storm” of burnout risks. All of us are bombarded each day with continued uncertainty and conflicting information about this virus, on top of that many of us face mounting financial worries, social isolation, and health-related fears. Because of this unending barrage of concerns, many people are experiencing the negative effects of chronic stress.
Because the effects of stress are cumulative, the longer we are exposed to it, the greater potential impact it can have on our mental and physical health, eventually leading to more serious issues.
An article published in Journal of the American Medical Association – Internal Medicine indicates that the mental health consequences of epidemics and large-scale disasters are often associated with increases in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, and a broad range of mental health disorders including anxiety and depression.
But the early signs of Burnout Syndrome can sneak up on you slowly and without warning. Often it begins with just the feeling of being tired all the time, a little more irritable, or perhaps drinking a little too much and too often. And the fatigue you feel can be emotional, mental and physical.
Those suffering from the early stages of Burnout may begin to feel as if what they are doing doesn’t matter that much anymore or experience a growing sense of disillusionment with everything. You try to be more like “your old self” but you just don’t have the energy or enthusiasm you once had, and relationships suffer because of it.
Does this Sound Like Anyone You Know?
If any of this sounds familiar to you, then they may be suffering from “Burnout”. The term “burnout” was first coined in the 1970’s and is now recognized by the medical profession as an actual disease entity with an array of symptoms that can include many of those seen in other conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Signs of Burnout Syndrome
• Feeling tired
• Digestive issues
• Frequent worrying
• Headaches and other pains
• Loss of sexual desire
• Low self-esteem
• Difficulty relaxing
• Feeling overwhelmed
Allowed to continue for any length of time, these feelings and symptoms can progress to the more serious symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD — feelings of sadness, anxiety, apathy and hopelessness.
Resiliency – The Best Way to Defeat the Effects Chronic Stress
Resilience is the capacity to recover, respond and bounce back from challenging times such as we are all experiencing now. Even if you don’t know the “back” to which you would “bounce” because the world may never return exactly to the way it was, you still need to maximize your capability to adapt, advance and move ahead during uncertain and challenging conditions.
There isn’t one specific strategy to use to build resilience, but there are a number of simple things that you can do on your own that may help. For example, many mental health experts recommend making time for dedicated exercise, checking the news in an intentional way, and engage in socializing. Others have advised seeking professional help if things worsen. They suggest engaging in tele-therapy or consider taking prescription medications which can help many people stabilize their lives.
Unfortunately, medications need to be taken for weeks or months before they start to work and even then, less than 30-50% see any benefits with the treatment. More than that, there may be serious side effects that can occur such as diminishing sexual desires or experiencing increased negative thoughts and suicidal tendencies. So, is there anything else that can be done?
Ultra-Rapid Resiliency – The Remarkable Breakthrough in Neuroscience
In an effort to find something more effective than conventional antidepressants, a group of researchers at Yale University in the late 1990s zeroed in on another neurotransmitter that may boost mood and increase resiliency – glutamate. Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, it pushes neurons to fire electrically. Research at the time indicated that glutamate somehow regulated brain circuits implicated in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
The Yale group decided to test the well-known anesthetic agent – ketamine – in part because its blocks a glutamate receptor in the brain called the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and also because it had a long track record of safety. They administered very low doses of the medication to a group of severely depressed patients who had not responded to any traditional antidepressant and were stunned by the results.
“Not only does it work within a matter of minutes to hours, the effectiveness is over 75% – twice as good as traditional medications or treatments.”
Almost immediately after the infusion they saw dramatic improvement. One of the researchers compared the experience of watching patients suddenly feel better and become energized to the movie Awakenings. In that film, a patient stuck in a catatonic state for decades suddenly wakes up and becomes alive again when treated with the drug L-dopa.
Since that time, many other researchers have confirmed ketamine’s rapid ability to improve mood, energy levels and resilience. Scientists have also collected encouraging data showing that ketamine also has the unique ability to quickly reverse symptoms of other conditions such as anxiety, stress-related burnout syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidality, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The excitement over ketamine among researchers and clinicians is clear. They point out that ketamine is the first drug with a new mechanism to treat mood disorders and stress-related conditions in more than half a century.
Can You Really Feel Better in Just Minutes? – How Does it Work so fast?
Scientists aren’t sure exactly how ketamine produces such a rapid improvement in these symptoms. One theory is that ketamine “reboots” the nervous system by rapidly prompting the regrowth and expansion of connections between brain cells that are involved in mood and behavior.
Research has found that synapses (important connections) in specific brain regions—those areas that regulate mood, interest, and vitality become weaker and may actually “disconnect” in people suffering from stress, anxiety and depression-like symptoms.
Following a ketamine infusion, there is a rapid increase in the number and strength of these synapses, often within minutes. They have noted that ketamine’s ability to strengthen these synapses is key to rapidly reversing the effects of stress and re-establishing healthy and active new connections. And they think that ketamine acts much faster than previous antidepressants because it acts directly on synapses, whereas the older, anti-depressant drugs act on synapses more indirectly.
Today, world-renown medical centers such as Yale, NYU, Columbia, Harvard and the Mayo Clinic are now utilizing ketamine-based infusions as an effective treatment for conditions like burnout, depression and anxiety. What’s more – they are even considering it as a possible preventative from developing burnout in the first place.
Before Considering Infusion Therapy
While the science is very exciting, ketamine-based infusion therapy is not to be considered lightly. If you are considering this remarkable new therapy, the first step in your journey should be to find a physician who is trained and qualified to administer ketamine infusions safely and effectively according to the American Psychiatric Association and the American Society of Anesthesiologists guidelines.
Ask a lot of questions and be satisfied with the answers. For help in learning what questions to ask, you can review the – “Frequently Asked Questions” – page at the Ketamine Research Institute to learn more about ketamine infusion therapy.
For Additional Information
Ketamine Research Institute – RESTORE Infusion Program
The RESTORE ketamine-based infusion program is intensive, highly individualized and strictly confidential. We don’t treat patients, we treat people… one person at a time.
We are also available to assist you with a free private consultation, please feel free to call us at 800-850-6979, we want to help.
In the meantime, remember that we are all experiencing the same hardship — which means we can understand what others are going through — and it is important that we all try to be there for each other, so we can all have a faster route to empathy and resilience.