Workplace stress can lead to depression and death, says study

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Many studies highlighting the health risk posed by workplace stress have been conducted worldwide. Most experts unanimously agree that unrestricted and overpowering stressful working environment is detrimental for the mental health of a person; stress can even lead to serious psychological ailments like depression and anxiety. Now a new study done by researchers at Indiana University in the US has made a disturbingly shocking observation that is sure to catch everyone’s attention, if not concern. According to the study report, the combination of three factors—stress combined with less control over their work and lower cognitive ability—at the workplace can lead to serious deterioration of mental health, increasing the likelihood of depression and even death.

“We found that work stressors are more likely to cause depression and death as a result of jobs in which workers have little control or for people with lower cognitive ability,” said the lead author of the study Erik Gonzalez-Mule from Indiana University in the US. “When job demands are greater than the control afforded by the job or an individual’s ability to deal with those demands, there is a deterioration of their mental health and, accordingly, an increased likelihood of death.” The study was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The study had established a strong link between depression and the death of a person with respect to the ‘autonomy’ a person enjoys at the workplace, work demands and his cognitive ability to handle those stressful demands.

The researchers arrived at this shocking conclusion after studying data collected from 3,148 participants who were the residents of Wisconsin, US. Sadly, during the course of the 20-year study, 211 people who took part in it died. On the brighter side, the researchers found that when an employee had more control over his responsibilities at the workplace, working under pressure yielded better results and health, unlike their peers who enjoyed less freedom and cognitive abilities.

Commenting on the current situation of the pandemic where people are working under a lot of pressure, Gonzalez-Mule said, “COVID-19 might be causing more mental health issues, so it’s particularly important that work not exacerbate those problems. This includes managing and perhaps reducing employee demands, being aware of employees’ cognitive capability to handle demands and providing employees with autonomy are even more important than before the pandemic began.”

(With inputs from IANS)

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