Excessive Stress From Work? Beware of the Consequences!

 

stress from work

Excess work stress is a state in which an individual experiences an overwhelming and unhealthy level of stress due to their job or work-related responsibilities. This level of stress from work goes beyond the normal and manageable stress that many people experience in the workplace. Excessive work stress can have significant negative effects on a person's mental, emotional and physical well-being.



Consequences of extreme stress from work

Extreme stress from work can manifest in various physical, emotional and behavioral consequences. It is essential to recognize them early to address the issue and seek support or make necessary changes. Some of the most common physical and mental consequences of extreme stress from work are as follows:


1) Physical consequences of excess stress from work

Excess stress from work can have a significant impact on your physical health. Prolonged exposure to high levels of stress from work can lead to various physical consequences, including:

i) Cardiovascular Issues

Chronic stress can contribute to heart problems. It may increase blood pressure and the risk of developing conditions like hypertension and even heart disease (Lovelace, K.J., Manz, C.C. and Alves, J.C., 2007. Work stress and leadership development: The role of self-leadership, shared leadership, physical fitness and flow in managing demands and increasing job control. Human resource management review, 17(4), pp.374-387). Stress can also lead to a higher likelihood of heart attacks or strokes. Know more about it by signing up for DocTube.

ii) Weakened Immune System

Excess stress can suppress the immune system's function, making you more susceptible to illnesses and infections. This can result in frequent colds, flu and other health issues.

iii) Gastrointestinal Problems

Stress can affect your digestive system, leading to issues like irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea. It can also exacerbate conditions like acid reflux.

iv) Muscle Tension and Pain

Stress often leads to muscle tension, which can cause headaches, migraines, neck and shoulder pain and even backaches. Chronic muscle tension can result in long-term discomfort.

v) Sleep Disorders

Stress from work can disrupt a person’s sleep patterns which may in turn lead to insomnia and poor-quality sleep (Blaug, R., Kenyon, A. and Lekhi, R., 2007. Stress at work. The work foundation, London). Lack of restorative sleep can contribute to fatigue and further exacerbate stress.

vi) Weight Gain or Loss

Some people may experience changes in eating habits due to stress, leading to weight gain or loss. Stress-induced weight gain is often associated with an increase in cravings for high-calorie comfort foods.

vii) Skin Problems

Stress from work can affect the skin, leading to conditions like acne, eczema or psoriasis. It can also worsen existing skin conditions.

viii) Reproductive Issues

For both men and women, chronic stress from work can disrupt reproductive health (Sharma, R., Biedenharn, K.R., Fedor, J.M. and Agarwal, A., 2013. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reproductive biology and endocrinology, 11(1), pp.1-15). It may lead to menstrual irregularities in women and reduced sperm count or erectile dysfunction in men.

ix) Respiratory Problems

Stress can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma. It can also lead to shallow breathing or hyperventilation, which can cause shortness of breath.


2) Mental consequences of excess stress from work


i) Anxiety Disorders

Chronic work-related stress can trigger or exacerbate anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. Symptoms may include excessive worry, restlessness, irritability and panic attacks.

ii) Depression

Excessive stress from work can contribute to the development or worsening of depression. Symptoms may include persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and feelings of hopelessness (Frankenhaeuser, M., 1981. Coping with stress at work. International Journal of Health Services, 11(4), pp.491-510).

iii) Burnout

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion often associated with work-related stress. It can lead to feelings of cynicism, detachment and a reduced sense of accomplishment in one's job.

iv) Difficulty Concentrating

High levels of stress can impair cognitive function, making it challenging to concentrate, make decisions and stay organized. This can affect both work performance and daily life.

v) Memory Problems

Chronic stress from work can impact memory and the ability to recall information (Hood, A., Pulvers, K., Spady, T.J., Kliebenstein, A. and Bachand, J., 2015. Anxiety mediates the effect of acute stress on working memory performance when cortisol levels are high: A moderated mediation analysis. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 28(5), pp.545-562). It may lead to forgetfulness and difficulty retaining new information.

vi) Negative Thought Patterns

Excessive stress can lead to persistent negative thought patterns, including self-doubt, pessimism and catastrophic thinking about the future. Increased Irritability and Anger: Stress from work can make individuals more irritable and prone to outbursts of anger or frustration. This can strain relationships at work and at home.

vii) Social Isolation

People experiencing excessive work-related stress may withdraw from social activities and isolate themselves from friends and family.

viii) Reduced Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

Continuous stress can erode self-esteem and self-confidence, making individuals doubt their abilities and self-worth (Mäkikangas, A. and Kinnunen, U., 2003. Psychosocial work stressors and well-being: Self-esteem and optimism as moderators in a one-year longitudinal sample. Personality and individual differences, 35(3), pp.537-557).

ix) Substance Abuse

Some individuals may turn to alcohol, drugs or other substances as a way to cope with or escape from work-related stress, leading to substance abuse issues.

x) Impaired Decision-Making

Stress from work can impair rational decision-making and problem-solving abilities, thereby leading to poor judgments and more chances of mistakes.

xi) Emotional Exhaustion

Constant exposure to high-stress levels can result in emotional exhaustion, leaving individuals feeling drained and emotionally depleted.

xii) Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders

Prolonged excess stress is a significant risk factor for the development of various mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other complications.




  Can prolonged stress from work cause depression?  
   

When work-related stress becomes prolonged and overwhelming, the risks of different kinds of physical and mental health problems increase. Long-term stress can increase a person’s risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

 
  Can excessive stress from work lead to respiratory issues?  
   

During stress, the body needs more oxygen and due to this, it attempts to elevate the respiratory rate which helps in gathering more oxygen. This leads to breathlessness and over time may lead to different kinds of respiratory issues.

 

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