Fatigue syndrome: what can be done?

Fatigue syndrome can have various causes and symptoms. Those affected usually find their quality of life is severely impacted. Find out here what types of treatments there are for fatigue and how you can ease chronic fatigue.

28.11.2023 Imke Schmitz 4 minutes

What is fatigue syndrome?

Fatigue syndrome is an illness characterised by extreme tiredness and exhaustion after even a small amount of activity. This condition does not improve even if the person is getting rest. Persistent exhaustion often makes it difficult for those affected to cope with everyday life and they feel that it impairs their quality of life. Other symptoms of fatigue syndrome include poor concentration, memory problems and physical symptoms. If these symptoms continue for several months, then this is known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

What causes fatigue?

The causes of persistent fatigue are still unknown. However, stress, an unbalanced diet and diseases such as cancer can be factors. During pregnancy, fatigue syndrome can be triggered by hormonal changes, iron deficiency or simply by the increased strain that pregnancy places on the body. There are many different causes of chronic fatigue, most of which are yet to be adequately researched.

While fatigue is often associated with depression, and is sometimes mistaken for it, chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease in its own right. Fatigue is also a key factor associated with the menopause: the hormonal changes that occur during this period can lead to fatigue syndrome. Fatigue is also a common symptom of the COVID-19 virus. Many people describe persistent tiredness and fatigue after having an infection.

Always talk to your doctor if you think you have symptoms of fatigue.

What are the symptoms of fatigue syndrome?

Fatigue can produce various symptoms, including

  • persistent tiredness despite getting sufficient sleep
  • memory and concentration problems
  • reduced physical and mental performance
  • listlessness
  • dizziness and drowsiness

What is the difference between fatigue syndrome and ME/CFS?

ME/CFS stands for “myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome” and is often considered a more severe form of fatigue syndrome. While fatigue syndrome generally involves persistent tiredness, ME/CFS is associated with other symptoms such as muscle pain, sleeping disorders and, in some cases, neurological problems. An ME/CFS diagnosis is more complicated and requires a thorough medical examination to eliminate other possible conditions with symptoms similar to ME/CFS. The causes of the condition have not yet been fully established. There is, however, growing evidence that it could be caused by dysregulation of the immune system and autonomic nervous system. 

Persistent tiredness: when should you see your doctor?

If you cannot overcome frequent tiredness through sleep, relaxation and outdoor exercise, you should consult a doctor. Constant tiredness can be a sign of a serious illness. This is especially the case if you have other symptoms such as night sweats, dry mucous membranes, blood in your stool, swollen lymph nodes or if you are unusually thirsty.

How is fatigue diagnosed?

Diagnosing fatigue can be difficult as there are no specific tests for fatigue syndrome. The process usually starts with you and your doctor having an in-depth discussion. This is aimed at clarifying the symptoms, how long your fatigue lasts and how it affects your everyday life. Your medical history and stress factors are also considered. Your doctor will then perform examinations and tests to rule out other possible illnesses. These include blood tests, for example. Your eating habits may also be analysed. The aim here is to identify whether you have any dietary or nutritional deficiencies.

Chronic fatigue: what can you do about it?

Chronic fatigue negatively impacts the quality of life of those affected by it. But there are various things you can do to combat this exhaustion. First of all, you need a diagnosis: seeing a doctor gives you clarity and rules out other possible causes. Once you get confirmation that you have fatigue syndrome, there are various ways of treating it. These include the following methods:

  • Light endurance training:
    activities such as gentle walking can slowly increase physical energy levels and improve stamina.
  • Cognitive training:
    activities like brain jogging can preserve cognitive faculties and functions. The goal is to boost and maintain your mental performance. For example, you can do sudokus or other puzzles and train your general knowledge.
  • Mind-body method:
    meditationyoga, breathing exercises and many other methods of relaxation have a positive effect on your body, mind and spirit. These exercises help you to be mindful of yourself and to sense what is good for you and what is not. The focus is on self-awareness and self-care with the goal of recognising your own resources and using them carefully.
  • Change in diet:
    a balanced diet can help you alleviate possible symptoms of fatigue syndrome. Opt for foods that are rich in protein, unsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. These include foods such as walnuts and linseeds as well as oils like linseed, hemp and algae oil.

Need inspiration to do more exercise?

As well as the activities listed above, walking or cycling in the fresh air can be a good way of treating fatigue syndrome. Start slowly and gradually pick up the pace. Make sure you maintain a comfortable pace so that you avoid overstraining yourself and getting tired.

Slow jogging is also healthy and a good way of combating chronic tiredness. But you shouldn’t overexert yourself – fatigue syndrome requires a balanced mix of physical activity and rest. Combine physical activity with relaxation methods.

Achieve your personal health goals with the Helsana Coach app

Do you need more support? The Helsana Coach app gives you helpful tips and suggests exercises that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life. Helsana Coach also provides interesting background information and answers to key health-related questions.

Fatigue syndrome: what else can help?

Although you can still experience fatigue even if you get enough sleep, it’s still a good thing to maintain a healthy sleep routine. Various sleeping tips can help you in this respect. Also, reduce stress levels and make sure you get sufficient time to rest during the day.

There is no universal solution to combating fatigue syndrome. Listen to your body, seek medical support and create your own personal plan to cope with chronic fatigue.

Read more

What are the signs of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency manifests in different ways: learn about the initial signs through to iron-deficiency anaemia.
March 1, 2022 3 minutes

Sleep deprivation: the impact on physical and mental health
Not only do sleepless nights make you tired, but they can also make you ill. How sleep deprivation impacts your body and your mind.
May 9, 2023 5 minutes


Find out more about current health issues every month and get all the information you need about our attractive offers from all Helsana Group companies * delivered by e-mail to read whenever it suits you. Our newsletter is free of charge and you can sign up here:


Thank you for registering.
You have just received an email with a confirmation link. Please click on this to complete your registration.

Unfortunately an error has occurred.

We did not receive your information. Please try again later.

* The Helsana Group comprises Helsana Insurance Company Ltd, Helsana Supplementary Insurances Ltd and Helsana Accidents Ltd.