Highly stressful jobs can help to tip younger, more vulnerable workers into bouts of major depression and anxiety, a study has suggested.
The King’s College, London study of the psychiatric assessments of nearly 1,000 people in the early stages of their careers found as many as one in 20 expected to experience serious depression or anxiety every year as a direct result of work.
The research, which has been published in the journal Psychological Medicine, is thought to be the first of its kind to establish a firm link between stressful working conditions and poor mental health among people with no previous history of these disorders before their careers began.
The psychiatrists interviewed 972 employed men and women, all aged 32, from Dunedin in New Zealand.
They had held a variety of jobs, but the study revealed a marked increase in cases of major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder among people in highly demanding jobs, with 14% of women affected and 10% of men.
Of these, 45% were directly attributed to stress in the workplace.
“Work stress appears to bring on diagnosable forms of depression and anxiety in previously healthy young workers,” said lead author Dr Maria Melchior. “In fact, the occurrence is two times higher than among workers whose jobs are less demanding.”
Reference: Psych Med, Vol 37, Issue 08, August 2007, pp 1073-1074
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