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Steps to Take Today to Prevent Job-Related Depression
Studies show that job-related depression and suicides are on the rise. Find out how to reduce your risk below.
According to data collected by the World Health Organization, suicide causes nearly 1 million deaths each year. More worrisome than this shocking statistic is that these numbers are on the rise.A 2015 study based on data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2003 and 2010 uncovered that suicides in the United States are rising- particularly among employees. Read more about these shocking statistics below:
The goal of the study, conducted by researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, was to document the growing trend of suicide in the United States.
Workplace suicide rates have not been well-documented in the past, according to the researchers, so the goal of the study was to see if any of the growth in suicide rates could be attributed to workplace conditions. The researchers studied the data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injury database and the Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System for the years 2003-2010. The rate of suicide was calculated using data from the 2000 U.S. population census and the 2013 Current Population Survey.
The researchers then compared the suicide rates with various occupations. The researchers found that between 2003 and 2010, 1,719 people committed suicide in the workplace. Suicide rates decreased between 2003 and 2007, but then sharply increased after 2007 (which could be attributed to the recession that occurred around that time).
When compared with suicides that did not take place in the workplace, the researchers found that there was a large difference in suicide rate increase. Non-workplace suicides gradually increased over time, while the workplace suicides dramatically increased after 2007. Men were more likely to die by suicide in the workplace than women (2.7 suicides per million workers). Workers over the age of 65 also had high suicide rates (2.4 per million workers). Individuals in protective service occupations had the highest suicide rate of any career path, with 5.3 suicides per million workers.
Individuals in farming, fishing, and forestry career paths also had surprisingly high suicide rates of 5.1 per million workers.
The fact that suicides are on the rise in the workplace indicates a greater amount of stress placed on workers today than in past decades. The study researchers concluded that employers and the healthcare industry in general should focus more energy on preventing depression and suicide in the workplace. High-risk occupations for suicide included protective service, farming, forestry, and fishing. Employers and workers in those fields should take extra care to protect their mental health.
According to research conducted by Tufts Medical School, mental illness in the workplace adds up to $44 billion in lost wages in the United States each year. Data from Harvard Health shows that many employees, however, chose to ignore any symptoms of mental illness such as depression or suicidal thoughts for fear of losing their jobs or being considered unfit to work in their current position. According to study researchers, about one out of four people suffer from depression, suicidal thoughts, or other mental health issues each year.
A study from 2015 conducted by Swiss researchers found that one-fifth of suicides are caused by unemployment. This clearly shows a link between employment and mental health. Most people spend a large portion of their time at work, so any work issues will creep into home life and home issues will creep into work life. Study researchers suggest that employers work to remove the stigmatism from mental health problems, as such a large number of adults continue to suffer from mental health issues throughout life.
The director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center, Dr. John. F. Greden, believes that many workplace suicides are preventable. According to Dr. Greden, it may be as simple as creating a caring environment in the workplace.
"Employers can establish new and innovative workplace mental health programs that are tailored to the population that they have working there. They can inform workers where to turn for help if they're struggling. They can create a climate that encourages employees to talk to each other when things aren't going well,” Dr. Greden said in an interview with The Huffington Post.
According to Dr. Greden, suicide is normally caused by extreme depression. He equated thoughts of suicide with a fever while suffering from pneumonia. If left untreated, a fever can kill you if you haven pneumonia. But when the cause of the fever is treated (in the case of suicidal thoughts, the cause is depression), the suicidal thoughts will dissipate and the employees will recover.
Just knowing that workplace suicides and depression are on the rise indicates a growing problem in society as a whole. Today, individuals are usually more stressed, have less leisure time, and are never able to fully relax. Constant access to work cause employees to feel like they are always at work. If you feel extreme stress and depression from work-related sources, there are a few things you can do on your own to relax, relieve stress, and prevent depression. Try the following natural methods to relieve workplace-related stress and depression:
Today, many adults move from one source of stress to another. There is little time to consciously relax. However, this can quickly lead to a build-up of unhealthy stress, which some researchers believe is a contributing factor for depression. Try to have specific periods of relaxation daily. Relaxing looks different to everyone, but some common relaxing activities include:
Hundreds of studies show that exercise is a powerful mood lifter and depression fighter. Daily exercise not only improves your physical abilities, but it also works to relieve stress and raise the mood-boosting chemicals in your brain. Exercise outdoors will provide even bigger benefits if done during daylight hours.
Sunlight is incredibly important for overall health and mood lifting. Without enough sun, you are more likely to be even more depressed. Many individuals living in areas with a lack of sunlight suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a general “blue” feeling that can eventually lead to depression. Go outside in the sun each day for at least 20 minutes for a boost in overall health and mood.
Your body functions best when it is fed the right nutrients. You don’t have to follow a strict or extreme diet plan- just stick to foods that are in the healthy category. Try to eat vegetables or fruit with every meal, avoid fried foods and processed food, eat more fish, and try to eat as many organically-grown foods as possibly. Avoid vegetable oils and trans fats.
Numerous supplements have been shown to have a benefit on mental health. Some of the best supplements for fighting depression include:
5HTP: 5HTP is a supplement that can boost serotonin levels in the brain.
One study cited by the University of Maryland found that patients given 5HTP supplements improved as much as patients given fluvoxamine with fewer side effects.
Vitamin B12: Many American adults are deficient in vitamin B12. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that 27 percent of women over the age of 65 had too-low vitamin B12 levels. This suggests that supplementing with vitamin B12 alone could potentially cure 25 percent of depression.
Omega-3: EPA and DHA, found in omega-3 supplements have a powerful mood-boosting effect on the brain. Many Americans are severely deficient in omega-3 fats which has been linked to numerous health problems.
Magnesium: Many adults are deficient in magnesium, which can be depleted by excess stress, alcohol consumption, sugar consumption, and caffeine consumption. Magnesium has protective effects against heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, insomnia, and depression.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is beneficial for lifting mood and improving the immune system. Just try going out in the sun and not feeling instantly a little better. Studies show that individuals with depression are far more likely to have low vitamin D levels.
St. John’s Wort: St. John’s wort has been linked to an improvement in depressive symptoms in multiple studies. A review of 23 studies published in the British Medical Journal in 1996 found that St. John’s wort is just about as effective as antidepressants when treating mild to moderate depression.
SAM-e: A 2002 review conducted by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that SAM-e supplements were more effective than placebo and just as effective as antidepressants.
A 2005 study published in the journal Sleep found that individuals who did not get enough sleep were nearly 10 times as likely to be depressed. Sleep experts recommend adults get between 7 and 9 hours of solid sleep a night. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each night.
If you spend most of your time doing things for others, a period of “me time” can help prevent feelings of depression. Try engaging in things that you find are fun, whatever that may be.
Time spent with people who care for you is extremely important in preventing depression. A study from 2009 published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that people over age 65 with moderate depression were more likely to fall into major depression if they believed they did not have social support.
Most people cannot express their full emotions at work. This means that much of work time is spent suppressing emotion. All of those emotions need somewhere to go or else stress builds up and depression sets in. Finding a safe way to release emotion can help prevent depression from starting. Sports, video games, reading, relaxing, watching movies, going on walks, writing in a journal, listening to music, and other activities can all serve as healthy emotional outlets.
Alcohol is a depressant and should be avoided during times of stress or depression. Alcohol may seem like a mood lifter at the time, but a person who is stressed or depressed is more likely to drink to excess and alcohol has an overall depressive effect on the body, which is dangerous if a person already feels depressed.
If you have too many responsibilities, you will never have time to relax. During periods of stress or mild depression, it is healthy to step away from any activities or responsibilities that are non-essential.
Thinking positively can have a beneficial effect on your mental health. A study from 2005 published in American Psychologist found that individuals who practiced daily gratitude exercises, such as writing down three things that made them happy, had lower levels of depression overall.
Today’s workforce is under constant stress and pressure. Our modern lifestyle does not leave time to relax, refocus, and rest. This has created an epidemic of depression and suicidal thoughts that have dramatically increased since 2007. You can take charge of your health and work to prevent depression by taking the steps outlined above. With just a few changes to your personal life, you can drastically improve your mood, remove depressive symptoms, and reduced stress without medication.
Volz HP. Controlled Clinical Trials of Hypericum Extracts in Depressed Patients--An Overview. Pharmacopsychiatry. 1997;30(Suppl 2):72-76
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