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A Stressful Work Environment May Increase Depression

Posted Apr 13 2009 11:01pm

A Finnish study has shown that a stressful work environment brought on by a lack of team spirit increases worker depression and the odds that employees will use antidepressants.

Marjo Sinokki, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Turku, Finland says “It is important to promoto well-being at work in every way and pay attention also to team climate.”

Sinokki’s research team collected data on 3,347 Finnish workers, aged 30 to 64 years old.  They asked about team spirit and the quality of communication and also about how they felt about the demands of their jobs.

The participants were asked to rate their workplace according to four phrases:

  • “encouraging and supportive of new ideas”
  • “prejudiced and conservative”
  • “nice and easy”
  • “quarrelsome and disagreeing.”

They were also asked about their home and social lives.

The researchers found that of those who thought team spirit was poor, about 60% were more likely to report being depressed and 50% were more likely to take antidepressants than those who rated team spirit as high.

However, Dr. Carole Lieberman, a clinical professor of psychology and stress expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, has some issues with some aspects of the study.

She says, “Although I agree with their conclusion, that poor team climate or office stress is associated with depression, there are problems with this study.  The study does not clarify to what degree office stress causes depression, versus to what degree depression causes office stress.”

Even given the criticism of this study, I would say that there is at least some merit to it.  I have noticed that I am less happy when part of a negative work environment.  I have also noticed that jobs with poor team spirit are more aggravating.  This is something to think about if you are stressed out or depressed about your work.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any solutions, but awareness and a positive attitude couldn’t hurt.

Reference:  MedLine Plus

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