Comparison of exhaustion symptoms in patients with stress-related and other psychiatric and somatic diagnoses

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Several rating scales assessing stress-related symptoms of exhaustion have emerged in recent years. However, more knowledge is needed about the performance of these rating scales in patients with stress-related disorders as well as in other patient groups. With the recently developed Karolinska Exhaustion Disorder Scale (KEDS), we compared symptoms of exhaustion in different patient groups that were sorted according to diagnosis. METHODS: Patients were sampled consecutively from departments of occupational medicine (DOM) at three Danish hospitals. The total study group comprised 698 care-seeking patients (487 women). Patients with stress-related diagnoses (n = 217; the International Classification of Diseases [ICD]-10 code F43: reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorder) were compared to a diverse group of patients with a range of somatic diagnoses (n = 338) and to patients with other psychiatric diagnoses (n = 143), including subgroups with major depression disorder (n = 34; F32 and F33) and problems related to employment and unemployment (n = 99; Z56). The data were analysed using linear mixed models with the SPSS statistical program. RESULTS: The mean KEDS sum score in patients with stress-related diagnoses (29.3; SD = 8.0) was significantly higher than in patients with other psychiatric diagnoses (25.9; SD = 9.5) and in patients with somatic diagnoses (17.6; SD = 10.8). The subgroup with a major depression disorder had high mean KEDS sum scores (31.4, SD = 8.1), similar to patients with stress-related diagnoses, while the mean KEDS sum score in patients with problems related to employment and unemployment (Z56) was 23.5 (SD = 9.0). Young and old patients scored similarly on KEDS, but in patients with somatic diagnoses, female patients scored significantly higher than male patients. CONCLUSION: The symptoms of exhaustion measured with KEDS were higher in patients with stress-related diagnoses and major depression disorder than in patients with somatic diagnoses. The intermediate level of the symptoms of exhaustion that were associated with problems related to employment and unemployment, (Z56) compared to the lower level of the symptoms with somatic diagnoses, suggests that KEDS might be useful in detecting mild, prodromal states of exhaustion. This needs further investigation.


  • Jesper Kristiansen
  • Maria Kristine Friborg
  • Nanna Eller
  • Lars Peter Andreas Brandt
  • David John Glasscock
  • Roger Persson
  • Jesper Pihl-Thingvad
  • Aniella Besèr
  • Marie Åsberg
  • Sannie Vester Thorsen
External organisations
  • National Research Centre for the Working Environment
  • Bispebjerg Hospital
  • Odense University Hospital
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • Regional Hospital West Jutland
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • Disorder, Exhaustion, Occupational health, Stress
Original languageEnglish
Article number84
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 4
Publication categoryResearch