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symptoms, treatment, prevention

There is no uniform definition of burnout. In general, however, the term refers to a deep state of mental and physical exhaustion that lasts for several months. It is usually attributed to overload at work, but the reasons can be multifaceted. Burnout is especially common in the context of social, helping professions. Women are more often affected. Here you can read about the symptoms of burnout and the therapeutic approaches available.


If you are exhausted for weeks and months, feel burned out and have problems participating in your professional or private life, you may be suffering from burnout. The condition persists even after periods of recovery, such as holidays.
Burnout is not considered to be a mental illness in its own right. For example, there is no standard procedure for diagnosing it.
The 2020 Job Stress Index from the Health Promotion Switzerland shows that almost a third of employees are under considerable stress – a key characteristic of burnout. Numerous symptoms can be indicative of burnout.

The most characteristic symptom of burnout is exhaustion. It is important to realise that burnout does not occur overnight. The onset and possible transition to depression are fluid. Alongside psychological symptoms, the signs of burnout often include psychosomatic symptoms as well.

Psychological symptoms

  • Reduced performance
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of social contacts
  • Loss of empathy
  • Cynicism
  • Negative thought patterns such as despair
  • Sleep disorders such as insomnia
  • Increased consumption of alcohol, nicotine or caffeine
  • Sexual problems
  • Anger, aggression
  • Depression

Psychosomatic effects

  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle tension
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea
  • Weakened immune system, resulting in increased susceptibility to infection
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Palpitations
  • Weight gain or loss

Many of these characteristics overlap with those of depression.

Poor working conditions and stress at work contribute to a state of emotional exhaustion. Young people in particular are affected, as the 2020 Job Stress Index shows: 42% of those aged between 16 and 24 in Switzerland are in the critical range when it comes to psychological stress. Health Promotion Switzerland therefore advises employers to pay attention to internal measures that promote the health of employees and thus prevent stress.

In addition to young workers, the following two types of people are considered vulnerable to burnout:

  • Type 1: people with little self-confidence
  • Type 2: people with a lot of ambition and determination

Although the two types differ in many respects, they also have similarities. They both find it hard to express their feelings, and they are both looking for recognition from the outside world. Their inner well-being depends on the people around them and is therefore very fragile.

In addition to the measures already included in a course of therapy, those suffering from burnout can do a number of things to improve their situation:

  • Self-love and mindfulness: listen to your needs and consciously perceive yourself. You are no less valuable than the people around you.
  • Maintain a social network to compensate for work stress and prevent loneliness.
  • Take breaks during the day.
  • Analyse your professional situation. What can you optimise, where can you reconsider your own requirements and adjust them if necessary?
  • Stress management: through coaching or therapy, learn methods to break old patterns of thought.
  • Relaxation can be achieved through autogenic training, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, for example.
  • A healthy lifestyle can increase your well-being. Make sure you don’t put any unnecessary strain on your body, for instance with alcohol or nicotine or by consuming too much sugar or caffeine.
  • Get moving. The World Health Organization recommends adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.
  • Find health-promoting routines. For example, try to go to sleep at the same time each day and early enough to ensure that you are getting enough sleep.
  • Seek help: you are not alone. Those affected and their relatives can talk to others at burnout self-help groups, for example.

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  • Job-Stress-Index 2020 über die Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz, unter: (Abrufdatum 09.11.2022)
  • Korczak, D, Wastian, M., Schneider, M.: Therapie des Burnout-Syndroms. Deutsches Institut für Medizinische Dokumentation und Information (DIMDI), unter: (Abrufdatum 10.11.2022)
  • Burisch, M.: Das Burnout-Syndrom. Springer Verlag, 5. Auflage 2013
  • Robert Koch-Institut: Studie zur Gesundheit Erwachsener in Deutschland, unter: (Abrufdatum: 10.11.2022)
  • Bewegungsempfehlungen der WHO, unter: (Abrufdatum 10.11.2022)
  • Selbsthilfegruppen finden, unter: (Abrufdatum 10.11.2022)