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How Work-related Stress Affects Your Mental Health

Work-related stress specifically, is an emergent issue around the world. This problem affects not just the well-being of employees but the general levels of productivity in an organization.

Stress at the workplace is caused by several factors often present in the work environment such as threats to job security, conflict with co-workers; unreasonably long work hours, poor managerial support, and heavy workload.

Work-related stress can cause several kinds of physical and psychological damage to an employee. It may take a while for an employee to realize they are suffering from work-related stress and by that time, too much damage may have already been done.

According to San Francisco personal injury attorneys at The Barnes Firm, “Most people think if they feel fine after an incident and that they’ve escaped without any injuries. While this could be true, some injuries may not begin to show symptoms until hours, days, or even weeks later.” This saying is true even for stressful incidents in the workplace. Here are a few ways that work-related stress could affect your mental health even before you realize it.

1. Physical consequences of Work-Related Stress

Work-related stress can manifest itself in physical ways, some of which include prolonged fatigue, endless headaches, tension in the muscles, neck pain, insomnia or other difficulties sleeping, heart palpitations, breakouts, skin disorders, and gastrointestinal issues. Physical symptoms such as neck pain can also be a sign of something more serious.

2. Psychological Consequences of Work-related Stress

Work-related stress has several psychological effects on sufferers some of which include prolonged anxiety and depression, impaired ability to think or concentrate depression, irritability, feeling overwhelmed and always wanting to throw in the towel, constant disappointment, and cognitive disabilities.

3. Behavioral Consequences of Work-related Stress

You may be suffering from work-related if you notice the following changes in your behavior. You suddenly love to isolate yourself and can’t muster up interest in work-related activities; work performance continues to drop while absenteeism increases, inability to take initiative or show creativity during tasks, aggression, and problems forming interpersonal relationships.

Mental Health Issues Caused By Work-related Stress

Asides from its physical, psychological, and behavioral consequences, work-related stress may also lead to certain serious mental health problems, including:

1. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a typical response to stress and anyone could experience it on a stressful day at work. However, anxiety disorders develop when anxiety overwhelms a person and becomes difficult to manage. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, and workers who experience anxiety so much that it interferes with their daily functioning might be suffering from anxiety disorder.

Anxiety could manifest in the form of loss of concentration, difficulty leaving the house in the morning, excessive worrying at work, self-doubt, fatigue, and restlessness. According to ADAA, employees in a typical work environment report that factors that are most likely to trigger their anxiety include workplace expectations of performance and work quality and, building a relationship with colleagues and superiors and work quality.

Other possible triggers of anxiety disorders include deadlines, poor job performance, and looming job reviews. Needless to say, anxiety disorders can negatively impact your work in the long run and even cause one to be uninterested in great career advancement opportunities.

2. Depression

A lot of things can happen at the workplace to cause depression. It doesn’t matter one’s job role, the work environment and level of available support can sometimes trigger depression. Some of the most common triggers of depression are a toxic work environment, too many job tasks for a person to handle effectively, no work-life balance, and job insecurity. Some consequences of depression may include an inability to complete job tasks, poor time management, poor decision making, poor communication, and social interaction skills. If left unchecked, one could end up in the hospital as a result of depression. So, it’s important to detect and treat this illness from the onset.

3. Therapy

According to the theory behind the approach, traumatic and painful remembrances can cause post-traumatic stress disorder when you do not fully process them. Then, when visions, sounds, words or smells trigger these raw memories, you relive them.

You may be a little doubtful about making eye movements when you think of a traumatic experience that can somehow alleviate painful memories.

Although experts are not entirely sure why the approach works, some believe it is effective because remembering disturbing events can feel less emotionally disturbing when you do not give these recalls your full devotion.

To put it another way, the mutual stimulation used in EMDR therapy gives you something to focus on when accessing painful memories and unwanted thoughts.

How to Prevent Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

To avoid getting to a point where you may require treatment for mental health issues caused by work-related stress, here are a few things to do at work:

  • Always talk to a manager about any stressful issues you may be facing at your job.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine, this helps keep your mind relaxed for most of the day.
  • No matter what your job is, ensure you create some time for yourself daily.
  • Don’t try to solve your problems by resorting to drug and alcohol abuse, rather seek professional help from a therapist.
  • Consider quitting a job if its demands are too much on your mental health.


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