I enjoy writing about what I commonly treat in my Tampa Functional medicine practice, and one of the most common conditions I treat is burnout.
Few people would consider burnout to be a medical condition, but it is, by far, the root cause of millions of annual doctor visits. Think about it. When your energy stores are totally depleted; you’re feeling overwhelmed by life’s burdens and demands; and you don’t have the time, money, and other resources to give yourself a break; your body becomes more susceptible to all forms of illness.
My grandmother provides the perfect case study in how burnout can impact health and how it can be treated successfully. Her second child, my uncle, was born prematurely and received excess oxygen, which resulted in blindness. My grandmother did a great job caring for him and ensuring that he would have a normal life. At the same time, she was caring for her first child, maintaining the household, and helping my grandfather run their family business.
After several years, she started to feel overwhelmed and began experiencing numerous health issues related to her hormones. She eventually developed ovarian cancer. Thankfully, it was detected and treated early and successfully.
Following surgery, she continued to feel overwhelmed, additionally burdened with worries over her health. While she survived the cancer, she still had to care for her children, maintain the household, and assist in the business. She met with her primary care doctor who noticed she was visibly anxious. Back then, prescribing an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax or Valium wasn’t as common as it is now. Instead, the doctor suggested she board a train and go somewhere nice for a few weeks.
Now this may sound like strange advice, it may even strike you as dismissive, but it was — for that day and age — the ideal prescription for treating the root cause of my grandmother’s medical condition. Based on her doctor’s orders, she carved out the time and headed from New York to California to visit some old friends for a few weeks. She returned refreshed, healthy, and relaxed, and from that point on, she experienced no major health issues. She died at the age of 92 and wasn’t taking a single prescription medication.
I tell this story to remind people that life isn’t just about work and responsibilities — and that healthcare isn’t merely about treating illness. With the right approach, we can alleviate and manage stress, replenish our energy reserves, and make our minds and bodies more resilient. I realize not all of us have the time and resources to hop on a train, travel cross-country, and visit friends for weeks at a time. But we all have the power to Continue reading…