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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp

Last modified: June 7th, 2023

Stress is an inevitable part of your professional life. However, that doesn’t mean you accept it or ignore its implications. According to a survey conducted by the Health And Safety Executives, UK, more than 5 lac workers are suffering from work-related stress and depression resulting in a loss of 12.5 million working days in just the last 2 years.

These findings are as disturbing for you as they are for your employer. Depression arising out of stress at the workplace can not just affect your own productivity, but also hamper the performance of your organization. Hence, it is highly important to manage stress before it worsens and leads to serious depression. Here’s how stress and depression in the workplace are linked.

Depression is the obvious consequence of improperly managed stress. If ignored, job-related stress can increase your risk of depression substantially. CLICK TO TWEET

Executive Summary:

stress and depression

1. Affects Your Moods

The first effect of stress is evident in your moods. According to research conducted at the Psychoneuroendocrinology, a possible mechanism for how stress and depression are linked is the improper biological response of the body to stress.

Stress disrupts the functioning of the glands that regulate the production and release of hormones in the body. This results in the excess synthesis of cortisol. Cortisol causes mood disturbances and paves way for negative emotions such as anger, frustration, agitation, and restlessness.

Over a period of time, these symptoms worsen resulting in extreme irritability, loss of appetite, and sleep disruption. These symptoms mark the beginning of a mild depression.

Stress can also result in cognitive changes and affect your intellectual abilities thus causing impaired memory, focus, and concentration. These effects of stress can hamper your performance at work resulting in a low appraisal rating or even a loss of job thus allowing serious depression to take hold.

2. Disrupts Healthy Coping Strategies

According to the research published in the Medical Science Monitor, the risk of stress-induced depression can be reduced considerably by adopting strategies such as focusing on emotions, planning, and seeking social support.

However, busy executives may not be able to adopt and stick to these coping strategies due to their hectic lifestyle. Hence, they are more likely to experience chronic stress and depression.

Working for extra hours every day and even on weekends is common in executives due to strict deadlines, and job insecurity. When you have to work for extra hours, you are more likely to skip healthy coping strategies such as practicing yoga and meditation. This can prevent you from avoiding the effect of stress and worsen your risk of depression.

3. Adopting Unhealthy Coping Strategies

Chronic stress and depression have one thing in common and that’s alcohol consumption. Constant work pressure, job insecurity, failure to achieve success and lack of work-life balance may force you to adopt unhealthy coping strategies such as excessive alcohol consumption and the use of recreational drugs. This tendency is more common in the executives who do not have strong support from family, or friends.

These strategies may provide an instant feeling of gratification. But, they are nonetheless dangerous for your health. According to a study conducted by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, alcohol consumption can increase your risk of major depression.

Recreational drugs produce a sense of euphoria that lasts only for a short duration. Alcohol and recreational drugs result in addictions or dependence. These consequences can affect your mental as well as physical health and even lead to the loss of job. These factors can worse your risk of depression significantly.

4. Strained Professional Relations

Research published in the International Journal of Disability Human Development, the overall atmosphere and relations with colleagues can impact your mood and job performance. Excessive work pressure can make your irritable resulting in angry outbursts.

However, this can lead to strained relations with your colleagues and create a hostile atmosphere at your workplace. As a result, your colleagues and subordinates may not cooperate with you or give you a cold shoulder.

Recurrent episodes of angry outbursts can also result in social isolation at your workplace. This can add to your existing stress and over a period of time, lead to depression.

5. Induces Inflammation

Research published in the Psychology Bulletin has indicated that stress and depression are linked to each other through inflammatory processes of the body. Work stressors in executives such as the inability to cope with higher expectations from the employers, poor performance appraisal ratings can disrupt the neural, and molecular mechanisms of the body. This can drive the pathogenesis of depression.

Executives who experience chronic stress have a high risk of depression due to the involvement of the immune system cells. Stress results in the production of certain chemicals that promote inflammation and cause damage to healthy organs. These chemicals can also elicit a profound change in your behavior. This can trigger the symptoms of major depression such as persistent sad mood, psychomotor retardation, fatigue, and social-behavioral withdrawal.

Stress may be good for you if it keeps you motivated, and alert. However, too much stress over a prolonged duration due to work pressure can increase your risk of depression through various mechanisms. Depression, in turn, can have a huge negative influence on your career, personal life as well as physical and psychological health. Hence, you must never ignore the consequential relationship between stress and depression and take steps to avoid them.

Find Out 7 Easy Ways To Cope With Depression at Work

If you have experienced stress linked depression, please leave a comment below to share your story.


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