Till startsida
University of Gothenburg
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Subjective and objective methods

Investigating mental fatigue requires a carefully taken anamnesis (medical history) and assessment of the mental fatigue symptoms as well of any anxiety, depression and neuropsychological symptoms. The investigation will focus on mental fatigue and the long time it takes to restore the energy. As cognitive impairment as well as other factors such as depression may occur which could aggravate the mental state, it is vital to distinguish and elucidate which symptoms are part of the mental fatigue picture and which are due to other reasons. Using the total evaluation of the different parts of the investigation as a guide, treatment and rehabilitation can become more successful.

The self-assessment scale Mental Fatigue Scale (MFS), we have developed may help the individual to gain insight into how he/she is affected by mental fatigue and could be useful for the individual as well as the professional community. It also gives information on individual symptoms often occurring in parallel with mental fatigue. The results showed MFS to be invariant to age, gender and education. A cutoff score at 10.5 is suggested.

This score level may be reached whilst in full time work or during sick leave as the total mental loading during the day time affects the level of mental fatigue. The self assessment scale also has therapeutic value as a help for individuals to find an explanation for the different symptoms they experience. It is easier to design treatment strategies together with patients if symptoms are elucidated and explained properly to the patient.


Further information about the mental fatigue self assessment scale:

Johansson, B and Rönnbäck, L. (2014) Long-lasting Mental Fatigue After Traumatic Brain Injury – a Major Problem Most Often Neglected. Diagnostic Criteria, Assessment, Relation to Emotional and Cognitive Problems, Cellular Background, and Aspects on Treatment. In Farid Sadaka (Ed), Brain injury, InTech. February 19, DOI: 10.5772/57311.



Johansson, B and Rönnbäck, L. Evaluation of the Mental Fatigue Scale and its relation to Cognitive and Emotional Functioning after Traumatic Brain Injury or Stroke.(2014) Int J Phys Med Rehabil 2:182. doi: 10.4172/2329-9096.1000182.



The figure shows how different groups with mental fatigue and healthy control persons rated their symptoms (total sum from the self assessment questionnaire for mental fatigue).


If the self assessment is co-ordinated with neuropsychological tests which quantify attention and information processing speed, the mental fatigue can be graded for each individual. Information processing speed, attention capacity and the ability to focus on several things simultaneously are most often affected in persons suffering from mental fatigue, whilst working memory in most cases is less affected. Neuropsychological tests must be sensitive and capable of clearly discriminating effects concerning persons who function relatively well and are able to perform tasks at a normal level, at least for the moment. If cognitive reductions within these neuropsychological regions are evident, the mental loading can be even higher. In addition, even other cognitive impairments may occur, which also affect and impair a person’s daily functioning. Unlike objective tests, it is not always possible to capture information about functional level in an interview.

Today, working life requires a high degree of efficiency. In full-time work, there are no opportunities for rest and it is often difficult to work in a way that will be less mentally taxing. Adjusting the work may be sufficient but if this is not possible, the work situation and work load should be carefully examined, particularly focusing on the possibility of adapting the work more effectively or reducing the working day.

Most people who suffer from mental fatigue tend to do too much when they feel better, which is natural. However, doing too much may lead to exhaustion for a person suffering from mental fatigue.  Acceptance of a limited ability to perform activities takes a long time.

Page Manager: Birgitta Johansson|Last update: 8/2/2015

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