Stress and anxiety can affect people in different ways, but it's a normal feeling.
How do we measure stress?
Before we talk about how common stress is, it’s important to note that there isn’t a blood test or medical investigation that can prove or demonstrate that someone is under stress. Stress is an experience that is highly subjective and varies vastly from one individual to another.
People are affected differently by stress
We all experience the world slightly differently from each other. Some people thrive off stress, and enjoy the perceived benefits of it, for some, it can help boost or motivate their performance and will choose a profession because of this. This does not apply to everyone, and we’re all different, which is what makes us all unique. Some people may struggle with being subjected to repeated long-term stress and will have to put coping mechanisms in place to help to avoid it.
How common is stress?
It’s hard to determine how many people are under stress because often people don’t report it and it manifests itself in different ways depending on the person.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report from 2022 found that for the year 2021/22 there were a total of 914,000 cases of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. This works out to be approximately 2,750 cases per 100,000 workers. However as we know that not everyone reports stress, these figures are likely to be higher.
The HSE report also found that in the years before the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression and anxiety was showing signs of increasing.
How common is anxiety?
The most common anxiety disorder is generalised anxiety disorder.
Generalised anxiety disorder affects between 4% and 7.9% of people where they initially seek help from a pharmacy or doctor. It’s often undiagnosed and it’s estimated that fewer than half of the people with generalised anxiety disorder seek treatment. This can be for several reasons, there’s still a stigma around anxiety and people feel ashamed to get help for it, or they may not realise that the feelings they are experiencing are that of anxiety. Generally, it’s more prevalent in women by two thirds, than in men. It’s often the case that men don’t speak about how they’re feeling as much and this can result in them being undiagnosed and in some cases, suicide. With the electrical and energy industries being predominantly male, it’s so important that we continue to break the stigma around poor mental health.
Did anxiety levels change during the pandemic?
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that almost half (49.6%) of people surveyed reported high anxiety levels at the beginning of the lockdown, between 20th and 30th March 2020. In the electrical industry, we’re seeing that there are still devastating ripple effects from the pandemic.
Links with anxiety and depression
Generalised anxiety disorder often occurs together with depression. 62% of people with generalised anxiety disorder have had at least 1 episode of depression during their lifetime. The more awareness we raise around stress and anxiety, the more people we can help who are suffering. It’s important to remember that if you are feeling like life is more difficult than normal and you have a persistent low mood, to reach out for help.
Who is at risk of stress and anxiety?
Anyone can be at risk of stress and/or anxiety. As stress varies from person to person, it’s not as easy to pinpoint what causes it, but it can be loneliness, relationship problems, disability, age, financial circumstances, work-related stress or feeling overwhelmed with a busy schedule.
In the UK, the most common type of stress is work-related. Companies are putting more and more procedures in place to help employees with stress, but if your job is isolating and you work on your own, it can be hard to recognise and prevent the symptoms of stress. We’re also seeing that younger people are feeling more stressed than ever before. There’s lots of pressure on young people and apprentices and this can cause a ripple effect, creating lots of other problems.
Remember, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, please reach out for help to The Electrical Industries Charity or Dr Dipesh Mistry.
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Dr. Dipesh Mistry
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Written in collaboration with Dr. Dipesh Mistry.