Job-Stress-Induced Illnesses: Are You at Risk?

If your job is stressing you out, more than your mind is being frazzled: Your health may be in jeopardy as well. In a new study of 152 women, those who reported high levels of job strain also scored high for depression, anxiety, neuroticism, and hostility — factors that leave them more vulnerable (Archives of General Psychiatry, June 1997).

How do you know if you’re at risk? According to the study’s director, Redford B. Williams, MD, women suffering from job strain were more socially isolated. “Being more irritable with family, finding that you’re not really interacting very much with friends, not attending religious activities as much — all these would be signals that your job and your psyche are interacting in ways that are potentially dangerous to your health.”

The solution? “I would suggest aerobic exercise. Vigorous exercise is very helpful in washing out the badness, clearing away the negative cobwebs,” Williams says.

Another antidote is talking about your problems with friends. “Telling what you experienced, rather than making a value judgment like ‘my boss is a jerk,’ is an effective way to get a friend to be sympathetic,” Williams adds.

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