Work, in addition to being our source of economic security, presents various benefits at a mental and emotional level that range from motivation, fostering a sense of purpose and gratification, to increasing self – esteem and increasing professional interest. If we were in the desired position and in our ideal job, it is likely that we would achieve these benefits, but that does not always happen; in fact, most people do not find a job that is right or according to their expectations, and if they do, even the career of their dreams can turn into a toxic job and not be what they really expected.
It is important to be able to enjoy what we do, but when this does not happen and work becomes a trigger for conflicts, it can cause some problems that result in serious pathologies. Below we will delve into three major work problems that can trigger major psychological disorders: work stress, workplace harassment and Burnout syndrome.
Different definitions for the concept of stress have been found over the years. Originally, this was conceived as a pressure generated by the environment, but later its definition was modified and it was understood as an emotional tension that occurred within the subject. Today, the generally accepted definition for stress is the one that encompasses the previous two together; the interaction between the situation and the emotional state of an individual.
We understand as stress the physical and psychological state that results when the individual’s resources are not sufficient to cope with the demands and pressures of a given situation. Therefore, stress cannot be generalized, as it depends particularly on each subject and a specific situation.
One of the places where situations occur that can lead to serious cases of stress is the work environment. Unfortunately, job stress has significant health consequences, both physically and mentally. These range from relatively benign conditions, such as temporary colds and the flu, to heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, metabolic syndrome, and major psychological disorders.
Because stress in the workplace is common, finding a low-stress job can be difficult or even impossible for many people. In these cases, the best option may simply be to adopt more effective strategies to reduce the situations that trigger work stress.
Resources that help cope with job pressures and demands include personal characteristics such as coping skills, good problem solving, assertiveness, tolerance for frustration, and empathy . The work environment, such as a good work environment and social support, can also be of great help in dealing with work pressures. These last resources can be modified if necessary, for example: investing in work infrastructure, training, good management and employment practices, and the form of labor organization.
What Causes Work Stress?
Stress can be caused by time-limited events, such as deadline pressures, by ongoing situations, such as family demands or job insecurity. Situations that can cause stress are those that are unpredictable or uncontrollable, uncertain, ambiguous or unknown, or situations that involve expectations of conflict, loss or performance.
The employer’s response to work-related stress situations
Historically, the typical response of employers to their employees’ work stress has been to blame the victim for their condition, rather than digging for the underlying cause. Today, thanks to the reformulation of several laws that protect the rights of workers, employers have the duty to guarantee the good health of their employees in the work environment, with good health we refer to both physical and physical health. mental health.
It is also part of the economic interest of the employer to promote the good mental health of its employees, such as preventing stress, since stress can cause high staff turnover, increased sick leave, early retirement, lower job performance, a higher rate of occupational accidents and, consequently, a reduction in customer satisfaction.
Symptoms of work stress
Usually the symptoms of stress are notorious, and can be seen in people’s behavior, especially in behavioral disturbances.
Stress can lead to psychological disorders such as:
- Panic attacks
- Emotional fatigue
Changes in behavior:
- Lack of concentration
- Fluctuation in moods
- Difficulty solving problems
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Headache , which can become chronic
If stress persists for a long period, there may be changes in neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, autonomic, and immune function
Mobbing: workplace harassment
Mobbing or workplace harassment is a creepy new trend that is characterized by mistreatment in the workplace. As with bullying , this abuse is usually psychological, although it can sometimes manifest itself in the form of physical violence.
Within workplace harassment, three actors are usually differentiated: the victim, the perpetrator and the accomplices. The perpetrator is the one who recruits co-workers (accomplices) to conspire against another colleague (victim). The role of the perpetrator is to create psychological terror in the victim in order to unbalance his psyche.
Statistics show that mobbing affects one in three employees; But what is really concerning is that one in two have witnessed bullying but have done nothing about it. In addition, the actual incidence of bullying is likely to be much higher, since for each reported case, there are eight to twenty cases that go unreported.
How does workplace harassment work?
The target is usually any partner who is “different” from the organization’s norm. Usually the victims are competent, educated, resilient, more empathetic or attractive people than the rest, and they tend to be women between the ages of 32 and 55. The targets can also be racially different or be part of a minority group.
The psychological abuse technique used by the perpetrator may include: constant teasing; massive humiliation; spreading false, shameful or highly negative rumors; exclusion in group activities; attribution of negative and derogatory nicknames; frequent threats and eventually removal of the victim from the workplace.
Often times, the instigator of the mobbing is an emotionally immature person, who feels threatened by the target in some way. Some people with certain types of personality disorders such as: antisocial disorder , hysteria, or narcissism, often employ tactics such as ‘split’, which pits team members against each other in order to get revenge on a ‘mild’ insult »perceived by the target.
Usually the victim of mobbing does not react to the attacks, he is left reeling emotionally, having no idea what is happening and why. Any type of harassment damages an individual’s mental health; It damages their security, self-esteem, dignity, identity and their sense of belonging . The effects can also radiate towards other colleagues, towards the victim’s family, friends or close environment.
In some jobs there is also bossing, which is workplace harassment from a boss or superior manager. Within this type, in addition to psychological abuse, there are often cases of sexual harassment, where the superior intimidates the victim and forces her to participate in situations in which inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature occurs.
The term “burnout” was first used in a clinical sense in the early 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, one of the first to describe the symptoms of professional burnout. For Freudenberger, Burnout syndrome is a gradual process, it does not happen overnight. Signs and symptoms are subtle at first, but tend to get worse over time.
According to American psychologist Christina Maslach, Burnout is a psychological syndrome that occurs as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors at work, resulting in overwhelming burnout, feelings of cynicism and detachment from work, and a feeling of ineffectiveness and lack of achievement. ,
Main symptoms of burnout syndrome
One of the first cases of Burnout syndrome was discovered by Freudenberger in 1974, where the author was able to differentiate three main symptoms: exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal achievement.
1. Exhaustion: is the generalized fatigue that can be related to dedication and excessive effort towards a task or project that is not perceived as beneficial. For example, in health care, a feeling of exhaustion – particularly emotional exhaustion – may result from continuing to care for a patient who has little chance of recovery.
2. Depersonalization: it is a distant or indifferent attitude towards work. This manifests itself in a negative way, with cynical behaviors or interaction with colleagues or patients in an impersonal way. Depersonalization can be manifested through mobbing; with unprofessional comments directed at co-workers; blaming patients for their medical problems; or in the field of health, with the inability to express empathy or pain when a patient dies.
3. Reduced personal achievement: it is the tendency to negatively evaluate the value of one’s own work, feeling insufficient with respect to the ability to perform a job, and a poor generalization of professional self-esteem.
Other symptoms of burnout syndrome
The symptoms of Burnout syndrome are diverse and can vary according to each subject and their work situation. Among them we can highlight:
- Feeling of fatigue most of the time
- Decreased immunity
- Frequent headache or muscle aches
- Change in appetite or sleeping habits
- Fluctuation in mood
- Decreased ability to adapt to work
- Low self-esteem
- Low tolerance to frustration
- Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
- Procrastinate, take more time than necessary to get things done or make decisions
- Using drugs to cope with emotional changes
- Violent reactions with the environment
- Breaking work rules, for example: arrive late and leave early
People diagnosed with Burnout syndrome may have other types of coexisting psychological disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or a depressive disorder.
Burnout syndrome in health professionals
According to recent research, more than 25% of the world’s working population are dealing with burnout, with a rate exceeding 50% for people in high-pressure careers such as physicians and surgeons. Younger people who work in pediatric intensive care are at the highest risk of suffering from burnout syndrome.
A study carried out in different health centers, using the tool created by Maslach to detect Burnout syndrome, showed that professionals in the maternity unit suffered from high levels of emotional exhaustion , the same happened with professionals with lower educational levels. Depersonalization was higher in doctors and nurses with various jobs, and low professional performance was more noticeable in non-specialized doctors, while high professional performance was associated with postgraduate training.
It was concluded that the risk factors for the development of Burnout syndrome in health professionals include: long working hours and consecutive shifts, lack of sleep, professional position within the work scale, having to make difficult ethical decisions and lack of control in situations of greater relevance.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.