Your body gets tired easily

Exhaustion: When the body is always tired

Persistent exhaustion doesn't always mean burnout. Physical causes can also lead to permanent fatigue - and should be clarified in any case

The typical symptoms of burnout syndrome - especially permanent physical and mental fatigue - are not always actually the result of overload. Physical factors can also cause them. "Before making a diagnosis, a detailed discussion with the patient, a physical examination and laboratory tests, for example blood values, are essential," says Professor Martin Keck, director of the clinic at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich. "Ultimately, burnout is a diagnosis of exclusion."

Persistent exhaustion can have many causes

Persistent exhaustion and depression can hide Hashimoto's thyroiditis - an inflammatory reaction of the thyroid gland in which the immune system turns against its own cells and tries to destroy them. As a result, the thyroid can no longer secrete enough hormones, which leads to burnout-like symptoms.

The same applies to an underactive thyroid due to iodine deficiency, to infections such as those with the HI virus or bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis and tick-borne borreliosis. Sometimes the burnout is caused by multiple sclerosis, leukemia, or other cancer. In all of these cases permanent exhaustion can occur, the symptoms of which are similar to those of burnout and from which the organism is unable to recover on its own.

Sometimes seemingly banal causes also contribute to this: for example, heavy snoring with nocturnal pauses in breathing. Or iron deficiency, which means that too little red blood pigment (hemoglobin) is formed and the body is not supplied with enough oxygen. And even side effects of drugs - such as blood pressure lowerers - sometimes cause burnout-like symptoms.

It is important to clarify any conceivable physical causes in the event of constant exhaustion

It becomes even more complex when doctors suspect chronic fatigue syndrome: The puzzling disease leads to mental and physical exhaustion, concentration disorders and reduced performance - and is strikingly similar to burnout. Some doctors assume that a regulatory disorder of the immune system is the main cause of the syndrome, possibly triggered by an infection.

In any case, it is important to clarify possible physical causes for symptoms of exhaustion. Sometimes such serious diseases that require treatment can only be discovered in the first place. Under certain circumstances, however, it can also be seen that the triggers can be treated relatively easily with medication.

However, if it turns out that the burnout syndrome is actually present by excluding other causes, you should discuss with a psychotherapist how to find ways out of the depths of the soul.