Stress & Mental Health

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Effects OF Occupational Stress on Mental Health

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Effects OF Occupational Stress on Mental Health


The biology of stress is very important because by knowing where the stress begins biologically we can bring it down. When people experience stress their sympathetic nervous system releases the stress hormones epinephrine and nor epinephrine from nerve endings in the inner part of the adrenal glands [and] pituitary hormone in the bloodstream stimulates the outer part of the adrenal gland to release the stress hormone cortisol (Greenwood 1999). This reaction is also known as "dual-response" system, which is a completely natural reaction causing increased heart rate and higher blood circulation in our muscles.

Throughout the eighties and into the nineties, work stress has continued to rise dramatically in organizations across North America. This paper discusses how occupational stress affects mental health.


The eighties saw employees stressing out from working in a rapidly growing economy. During the nineties, beginning from the recession of 1992 till present day, employees are stressed by their own job insecurities in the face of massive downsizing and restructuring of organizations in order to be competitive on the global stage. Work stress is a very extensive topic ranging from research on the sources of stress, the effects of stress, to ways on managing and reducing stress. This report will focus first on the evidence for the harmful effects of stress at work, both mentally and physically. The last section will briefly explain why management should be concerned with rising employee stress and will describe some actions management can take to alleviate work stress.

Most research studies indicate a high correlation between stress and illness. According to authorities in the United States and Great Britain, as much as 70% of patients that are treated by general practitioners are suffering from symptoms originating from stress (Monat & Lazarus 1999). Everyone experiences stress, however, each person responds to stress very differently. Their response is dependent on how each person reacts to stress emotionally, mentally, and physically. There are, however, common effects of stress for most people on the physical and mental body.

Repression of emotions occurs often in human service professionals such as policemen or accountants. Their roles demand that they suppress their emotions when interacting with clients. Thus, when the stress levels begin to rise as they deal with more and more clients, they would put up an even greater resistance to their own emotions. Over time, the professional may not be able to relax that emotional resistance. All their emotions would be masked and retained within themselves, resulting ultimately in mental and emotional disorders.

Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety

Stress symptoms can occur in both the physical body and psychologically. Physical stress symptoms include overwhelming fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, gastrointestinal distress like stomach aches, constipation or diarrhea and excessive weight loss or weight gain. Psychological stress symptoms can occur, too, and they can actually exacerbate physical stress symptoms. Nervousness, anxiety, under- or overeating, difficulty sleeping (or sleeping too much), no longer enjoying activities once ...
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