News / 

Mounting Worker Stress Creating Killer Diseases

Save Story

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Today is Labor Day. Do you have the day off?

Or are you working, maybe even harder than usual because you're in retail sales or food service and people who get the national holiday are jamming stores and restaurants?

Or maybe you're in your office? The phones won't be ringing and you can get ahead on the backup that you know will never end.

"Are you working yourself to death?" asks the inner voice you can't silence.

The answer may be yes.

Killer Stress is stalking the American workplace, hidden mostly from the employers who create it by demanding more than the human body was designed for and from the workers who endure it, knowingly and willingly - or not.

For more than 25 years, researchers have been warning that job dissatisfaction and unremitting work create lethal stresses. The American Institute of Stress calls our overwork practices the country's major health problem.

So many people have heart attacks between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Mondays that the phenomenon is called Black Monday Syndrome.

Job stress - including the illnesses and accidents caused by insufficient rest, relaxation and exercise - costs the nation more than an estimated $300 billion per year.

Stress is amplified exponentially because fear of job loss makes most employees unwilling to object openly to unreasonable demands.

A recent compilation of workplace stress research by the Center for the Advancement of Health is a chilling reminder that American workers need to do some soul-searching.

"Job-related stress most often manifests itself as a cardiovascular problem like high blood pressure, but the pathways connecting stress to health are mostly unknown," the center reports.

One cause is "the unhealthy effects of unequal power and control over work decisions." Workers cope in various ways, literally being driven to drink, drugs and violence to escape the pain of laboring under bosses who treat workers as slaves.

In a 25-year study of men in stressful jobs, Dr. Paul Landsbergis, a social epidemiologist at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, found "a gradual but large increase in their blood pressure at home and work."

Another study traced poor supervisor-employee relations to hypertension high enough to cause a 16 percent increase in heart disease and a 38 percent increase in stroke.

Got high demands, low control, job insecurity and few career options? This is the current norm in America.

Stress like that can double the rate of death from heart disease. Colds, flu and stomach problems increase. Injuries and accidents increase. Productivity declines.

Concerns that the government isn't doing enough to improve the economy and help the taxpayers on whom the nation's survival depends further elevate stress.

While the researchers think individuals can change some of their stressors to improve health, the situation is really national and global.

Employers are "under pressure to reduce costs and get people to work harder and faster," Landsbergis notes. Local, state and federal governments face similar crises because of budget cuts.

In a democracy, citizens are responsible for what our government does for us and to us. It's a cop-out to say "there's nothing we can do." Personal action creates power.

Research shows that lessens killer stress.

(C) 2003 Richmond Times-Dispatch. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast