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How much work stress weighs on your mental health: from 'burnout' to depression

2022-07-05T11:53:00.593Z

A study calculates that if stress at work were reduced, 18% of depressive disorders could be avoided Good mental health is a kind of puzzle made up of genetic and environmental pieces. Some already come as standard, such as the greater or lesser genetic predisposition to suffer from a mental problem; and others, are built over time, through the environment in which you live, the family that touches you, the relationship with others, the economic situation, the job or the traumatic events that may



Good mental health is a kind of puzzle made up of genetic and environmental pieces.

Some already come as standard, such as the greater or lesser genetic predisposition to suffer from a mental problem;

and others, are built over time, through the environment in which you live, the family that touches you, the relationship with others, the economic situation, the job or the traumatic events that may arise.

An amalgam of factors defines the good or bad mental health of each one, but not all of them play the same role.

Work stress, for example, affects depression and, according to a study published in the journal

Molecular Psychiatry,

if this risk factor were minimized, the cases of depressive disorders would be reduced by 18%.

Celso Arango, head of Psychiatry at the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid and author of the study, states that, from the outset, stress is something positive for the body, it is the reaction to an alert and the human body is used to it.

But everything has its measure.

“Stress increases cortisol, which is neurotoxic.

Chronic, sustained stress ends up producing insomnia, anxiety and depressive symptoms”, explains the doctor, who is also president of the Spanish Society of Psychiatry.

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Why mental illnesses can be prevented

The study, which reviews the available scientific literature on the role of modifiable risk factors, calculates what percentage could be avoided if a key risk factor disappeared.

It depends, in each case, on the disease and the circumstances.

The investigation calculated, for example, that if “childhood adversities” were avoided, such as abuse or maltreatment in childhood, the cases of schizophrenia would be reduced by 38%.

And if physical exercise were practiced properly and constantly, "cases of Alzheimer's would be reduced by 15% in the future," says Joaquim Raduà, a researcher at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (Idibaps) at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and also study author.

Despite the limitations of the research—there may be overestimates or underestimates in the prevalence of risk factors and "the real-world efficacy of specific preventive interventions targeting these factors needs to be demonstrated," the authors admit—Raduà assures that the study serves to demonstrate, on the one hand, that social factors only explain a part of mental health problems —”Sometimes, there is a reductionism that all mental disorders are due to social issues and it is not like that;

influences genetics, the environment and the interaction between the two.

But, in turn, Raduà insists that "if these factors could be acted upon, cases could be avoided."

Arango admits that the calculations are “utopian” because “one cannot completely remove them”, one cannot erase those risk factors 100% from the map,

but do reduce them.

"If we manage to reduce work stress by 50%, there would be 8% less depressive pathology," he exemplifies.

Stress harms health.

In fact, the World Health Organization has already included professional

burnout syndrome

in the latest update of the International Classification of Diseases as a work-related problem.

Toni Corominas, member of the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Cluster of Catalonia and director of the Chair of Mental Health at the University of Vic, explains that the bases of

burnout

There are three: “On the one hand, there is emotional and physical fatigue, like a feeling of burden and exhaustion in the face of the demands of the task;

there is also a depersonalization, so that the jobs are done in a cold and impersonal way because that person does not feel comfortable with his role;

and, thirdly, there is a lack of personal fulfillment at work”.

As in a kind of slide, this incipient

burnout

can trigger an anxiety disorder or depression.

Apart from the factors of innate vulnerability, explains Corominas, there are cumulative factors: “These begin with a denial, when it is difficult to talk about it, because there is still a stigma to say that one feels bad.

And then you enter into those behaviors that complicate things more: instead of talking, you pass a passive attitude, you do not value new opportunities as a factor of motivation for change and you enter that slope.

After a while on that downhill, with a feeling of discouragement and lack of pleasure or ability to enjoy things that previously generated a taste, Corominas describes, the road heads towards depression.

“This is accompanied by other symptoms such as sleep disturbance, appetite or libido, fatigue and performance disturbances.

This picture, which could initially be reactive [to the work situation], can go on to become a major depression: the symptoms are aggravated with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, you do not see a solution to the issue”.

Prevention

All that slide, yes, it can be prevented.

You have to anticipate, in fact.

“When you notice that you have a problem, you have to start an assertive conversation with your superiors or colleagues, you have to create meeting spaces to analyze what is happening,” says Corominas.

Whenever possible, of course.

Temporary breaks, friendly work environments or facilities to reconcile with family responsibilities, Arango points out, are some options to improve the management of work stress.

Companies, for their part, although more aware, still have pending tasks, Corominas points out: "Since the law on prevention of occupational hazards was implemented in the 1990s, less than 1% of companies have implemented prevention plans. psychosocial prevention.

It has been the great pending subject”.

Through the Mental Health Cluster, experts have developed anxiety management guides, coping with stress, emotional management and addressing mood changes and addictive behaviors.

Corominas highlights some warning signs for when that work stress begins to get complicated.

One of them, he says, "withdrawal", when a person isolates himself or does not dare to communicate or express his feelings.

It also focuses on a possible "alteration of the usual sleep pattern or other daily habits."

Another warning is the "magnification of problems" and, finally, "the feeling of guilt, when all the evils are attributed".

“Beware of guilt because, sometimes, it is another deception of the mind when you are with the depressive chip”.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-07-05

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