Leuven researchers developing blood test to determine burn-out

Researchers at Leuven University (KU Leuven) are developing a blood test to determine whether someone is actually suffering from a burn-out or not, Het Mediahuis reports. Now, this happens using a questionnaire, but critics say this is not always objective.

The Belgian health service RIZIV says that two years ago, 8,208 employees were out of work for a year or longer due to a burn-out. Many more had to stay at home for a shorter period.

Are you emotionally exhausted, do you have a lack of motivation or do you have the feeling you can't perform at work as you should? It's not always easy to determine when a burn-out is actually the case, but the Leuven Professor Lode Godderis might have an answer to this challenge.

Looking for "stress genes" in the blood

Godderis wants to see whether patients have so-called 'burn-out genes' in the blood, which are being generated when people are suffering from stress. "Each blood cell contains over 23,000 genes. A handful of these are being activated by stress factors. If they remain active, we can talk of chronic stress, which can lead to a burn-out", Godderis explains in the papers.

The new method will also allow doctors to make a clear difference between a depression and a burn-out. Patients can receive the right treatment much quicker. And the blood test will allow them to see whether a patient is ready to return to work.

Godderis is now looking for 120 test persons: 60 suffering from a burn-out and 60 others. They will be monitored for a period of six months. This should eventually end up in a blood test in three years' time.