Is your job affecting your mental health?

Mental health issues, including burnout and stress, are among the most common reasons for time off work. But what if your work is the source of the problem? In a report for the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Dr. Martin Shain concluded that excessive demands from supervisors and management, as well as unpaid overtime, can lead to mental harm. As Shain points out, the workplace represents a unique setting, as employees often feel powerless and worry about job security. Normally resilient people can be brought to the brink of mental distress – even pushed over the edge – by work conditions. But there is a movement under way to improve this situation: the Mental Health Commission of Canada is urging employers to acknowledge the importance of mentally safe and healthy work environments and has released a voluntary standard. Find webinars and other materials at mentalhealthcommission.ca. Two common psychiatric conditions experienced by those with workplace stress are anxiety and depression. Depression Symptoms of depression include a persistent sad or "empty" mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism and despair; guilt, worthlessness and helplessness. Often there is difficulty making decisions, concentrating or remembering; fatigue; plus loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex. Common physical changes include: insomnia, oversleeping or early-morning awakening; low appetite and weight loss; or overeating and weight gain. In addition there can be thoughts of death or suicide. Persistent physical symptoms that don't respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and pain, are also associated with depression. Anxiety Signs include feelings of dread; feeling irritable or tense; trouble concentrating; pounding heart; sweating; stomach upset; dizziness. If you have symptoms related to depression or anxiety, seek medical attention: Work should not make you sick.