The vast number of U.S. workers claim to periodically suffer from depression, anxiety and stress; moreover, every year an alarming percent are diagnosed with chronic mental health issues related to these conditions. However, as with all mental health problems, the symptoms can manifest at the physical as well as emotional level.
The physical responses to excessive fear and anxiety can trigger chain reaction of pathological episodes by activating the amygdala of the brain (the region responsible for the “fight or flight response”); this, in turn, releases neurotransmitters to the cortex. There, an individual’s fear or anxiety – regardless of whether it is real or imagined – is analyzed in detail and returned to the amygdala, where under normal circumstances, the fear response is cut off by something called amino-butyric acid (GABA). Chronic worriers may not have a high enough GABA-level to shut down this pathway. As a result, there are continuous distinct secretions of glucocortocoids and catecholamines that elevate glucose levels in the blood. These dilate blood vessels in the muscles and stimulate the adrenal glands, which in turn cause changes in breathing, body temperature, sweating, decreased mobility of the stomach, bowels, and intestines, and constriction of the sphincters in the stomach and intestines.
Anxiety, Depression and Workers’ Compensation
More simply put, continuous fear and anxiety can lead to a debilitating level of stress hormones like cortisol (from the adrenal glands) and others that trigger a significant rise in triglycerides and blood sugar levels. If this process is not checked, it can cause premature coronary artery disease, memory loss, digestive disorders, and suppression of the immune system. Scientific research has shown that constant stress, such as chronic fear and anxiety in the workplace, leads to weight gain and hypertension. Of course these conditions are just the starting point of a larger set of related problems like orthopedic injuries and increased rates of diabetes and cancer.
The verdict from doctors and medical researchers: work-related stress and anxiety can lead to increased mortality and morbidity. It’s that simple.
For more information on how to manage stress and anxiety in the workplace without medication, see our previous posts on “How to Control Stress and Anxiety Without Medication.”
Occupational Illness Attorney
If you suffer from an occupational illness or need help recovering benefits through your Washington workers’ compensation claim from the Department of Labor and Industries, contact an experienced Seattle Workers’ Compensation Attorney at Emery Reddy. We can help you appeal a denied L&I claim, prepare for an Independent Medical Examination, or apply for benefits from a third party injury. Our third party claim lawyers are proud to represent Washington residents; call for a confidential appointment today.