written by: Lisa Good•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 11/1/2010
Learn how to recognize health issues that arise from work-related stress. What kinds of issues affect us? What are the signs and symptoms of these issues? Know what can occur and what to look for. Consider this statistic: 25% of employees view their jobs as the number-one stressor in their lives.
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Health issues Arising from Work-Related Stress
In our busy environment there seems to be a rise in health-related issues from work-related stress. Today there is more and more demand to be successful, stay late, come early, and work from home. It seems with the latest and greatest technology we are never far from our work place. Blackberries, pagers, fax machines, and laptops all are ways of keeping in touch. Keeping in touch may be a bad thing for stress levels related to work.
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What Conditions May Arise from Work-Related Stress?
Work-related stress can cause major or minor ailments. Stress can lead to sleep disorders, upset stomach, and headache. If the stress levels are high enough stress can even lead to more serious conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Workplace stress can also contribute to mental disorders such as depression.
If left untreated stress can cause the body's immune system to deplete. The body may not be able to fight off common colds and flu as well as it normally would. The body's ability to repair and heal itself can be severely compromised.
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Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
The signs and symptoms of each illness are different. In general, most people know when their body is telling them something. Sometimes people choose to ignore these telltale signs.
There are rather obvious signs of depression such as sleep loss, lack of appetite, and the loss of enjoyment of things ordinarily enjoyed. Signs of gastrointestinal (GI) distress are persistent vomiting, upset stomach, and lack of appetite. High blood pressure is usually characterized by nose bleeds and a racing pulse or heart. Heart attacks and strokes sometimes look the same. These symptoms include arm pain, head pain, chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath. Symptoms such as these should be taken seriously and reported to a physician immediately.
Treatment varies according to the condition that has occurred. A psychiatric condition such as depression and sleep loss due to stress sometimes requires medication including antidepressants, but often talk therapy is enough to help ease depression. High blood pressure is often controlled with diet and/or medication. GI issues can also usually be helped by change in diet or medication. Obviously heart attack and stroke are more serious conditions which usually require hospitalization at the least and sometimes even surgery.
No one should attempt to diagnosis or treat any of these conditions by him- or herself. Only a doctor can determine that a condition exists for sure or the treatment that is needed for said condition. These health issues range from minimal to serious. Any symptoms should not be ignored and a physician should be consulted. Health-related issues from work-related stress can be controlled with the proper treatment.
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), publication 99-101: Stress...at work. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/