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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

Mel Hopper Koppelman: Solving Complex Health Problems Related to Burnout

Mel Hopper Koppelman was so burned out that in spite of being longtime friends with host Cait Donovan, she did not immediately recognize her own connection with childhood trauma and burnout. Growing up labeled as a “gifted kid”, Mel developed blind spots regarding aspects of her neurological development that were lacking. As an adult, she developed complex chronic health issues. Because of her blind spots, it would be years before Mel realized the connection between her childhood experiences, her health issues, and burnout. Now, as the founder of Synthesis Health Lab, Mel helps other people who are struggling with chronic health issues to heal and live their best lives.

While some conditions of burnout are environmental, others can be linked to neurological development, adverse childhood experiences, and genetic factors. For Mel, much of her burnout and chronic health issues ended up being linked to uneven neurological development. Through testing, Mel discovered that she retained primitive reflexes, typically not seen beyond one year of age, that influenced nervous system dysfunction. When nervous system dysregulation stems from delayed or uneven neurological development, the resulting burnout needs to be approached differently. The same techniques that work for burnout for someone with an evenly developed brain will not work the same way for someone whose neurological development differs.

If you are struggling from complex, chronic health problems like fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmunity, or chronic fatigue, consider getting tested for retained primitive reflexes. Your nervous system may be dysregulated due to differences in your neurological development.


We might be having a difficult time understanding development because we are underdeveloped ourselves.” (8:06 | Cait)

One of the things that goes along with certain types of developmental issues, like we see with a lot of neurodiversity, is a characteristic unevenness of skills.” (9:52 | Mel)

Things can run in families that are not necessarily genetic.” (15:10 | Mel)

When we have adverse childhood events…and development is not unfolding optimally, then those primitive reflexes, instead of getting integrated, which means that the brain matures and kind of stops them from being active,…those reflexes are still there.” (26:59 | Mel)


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