Beating Depression. Is Work Stress Getting You Down?

John was a hard working and caring teacher. He loved his job, despite increased workload pressures and the demands of extra curriculum activities. He regularly took work home and his wife often complained that he was “married to his job”.
Of concern to her was his occasional bouts of work related stress and depression.

Just over 12 months ago, he arrived at work early to prepare for a pre school interview with “a particularly difficult parent.” At morning tea he suddenly lost consciousness and slumped forward over the staffroom table. Frantic attempts to resuscitate him failed. His heart attack at the age of 53 came without warning. He was in generally good health. According to colleagues he took his job seriously and seemed depressed and anxious in the weeks prior to his death.

Teachers, nurses, doctors and police are in particularly stressful occupations. They are constantly dealing with members of the public and research studies show that members of these professions have high rates of stress, depression and anxiety. Doctors also have high rates of suicide.

Yet all occupations these days can be stressful. Increased work pressures due to staff reductions and “downsizing” as well as tough deadlines to be met and demanding sales quotas, can lead to health problems including heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and cancer. The current escalation of fuel prices has placed particular stress on those involved in the transport industry.




Almost all businesses have professional counseling services to help employees who may be experiencing health problems due to stress and depression. In most cases the service is free. Don’t feel as if you are being weak. Your future health is at stake here. Use it.


You are entitled to this as part of your sick leave. Remember you are not indispensable. Your job will survive without you! You will be amazed at how much better you will feel when you take a break. Your body will thank you and so will your family. They could have you for a lot longer! Your counselor may recommend a period of stress leave and a doctor’s certificate may be necessary.


According to Professor Ron Penny, medical director of Good Health Solutions, “Studies have proven people are much better emotionally and physically after taking a holiday. For starters, the heart attack risk drops in males when they take annual leave at regular intervals”.

Importantly for employers, healthy well rested people are more productive, they take fewer sick days and the strange phenomenon of “presenteeism” { in which an employee stays too long} or classic Mondayitis, becomes less prevalent.


At lunchtime, leave your work premises and go for a walk on your own, preferably in a park or even along the beach. The fresh air and solitude will do wonders for your spirits, giving you time to reflect and rejuvenate. Similarly on the way home from work, stop of at a park and either go for a walk or just sit in your car listening to relaxing music.


Of all the stress reduction activities, this is possibly the most important. Research studies indicate that exercise is one of the best for your health. Brisk walking and tennis are two of my favourites. Gardening, taking your dog for a walk or simply throwing a Frisbee are great stress reduction activities. Simply being out in the fresh air is an added bonus.


Did you know that your dog can be a great stress reducer? The simple act of stroking or playing with your pet releases “feel good” hormones, including serotonin, that are beneficial for your health.

Never start a new treatment before consulting your doctor, especially if you are currently taking medication. The information published in this article is not intended as a substitute for personal medical advice from your physician or other qualified health-care practitioner. It is for information purposes only.

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