Exploring the effectiveness of a specialized therapy programme for burnout using subjective report and biomarkers of stress.

Orosz, Ariane; Federspiel, Andrea; Eckert, Anne; Seeher, Christian; Dierks, Thomas; Tschitsaz, Armita; Cattapan, Katja (2021). Exploring the effectiveness of a specialized therapy programme for burnout using subjective report and biomarkers of stress. Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, 28(4), pp. 852-861. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1002/cpp.2539

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The increasing prevalence of stress-related disorders such as burnout urges the need for specialized treatment approaches. Programmes combining psychotherapy and regenerative interventions emerge to be the most successful. However, evaluated therapy programmes are scarce and usually involve subjective symptom quantification without consideration of physiologic parameters. The aim of the present exploratory, single-group study was the multimodal investigation of the effectiveness of a specialized holistic therapy programme by assessing symptoms and biological markers of chronic stress. Seventy-one in-patients (39 men/32 women; age 46.8 ± 9.9 years) of a specialized burnout ward with the additional diagnosis of burnout (Z73.0) in conjunction with a main diagnosis of depressive disorder (F32 or F33) according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 were included in the study. In addition to symptomatology, the stress-responsive biomarkers heart rate variability (HRV) and serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were measured in patients at admittance to and discharge from the burnout ward applying a 6-week specialized treatment programme. At discharge, patients showed a significant reduction of symptom burden and a significant increase in serum BDNF, while HRV remained unchanged. The findings implicate that the therapy programme may have beneficial effects on symptomatology and neuroplasticity of patients with burnout. As therapy was often supplemented by psychopharmacological treatment, a relevant influence of antidepressant medication especially on BDNF has to be considered.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center

UniBE Contributor:

Orosz, Ariane, Federspiel, Andrea, Dierks, Thomas, Cattapan-Ludewig, Katja








Ariane Orosz

Date Deposited:

24 Dec 2020 11:17

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:43

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) burnout exploratory therapy evaluation using biomarkers heart rate variability (HRV) stress-related mental disorder





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