Work-related stress

The work environment has drastically changed over the past couple of years.

As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, we need to be aware of ever-changing environments and the risks accompanied by the technological advances we now see in the workplace. Now more than ever we spend more time in meetings, at our desks and behind computers, leading sedentary lifestyles. All of which has compounding effects on our mental state at work. It comes as no surprise that stress-related illnesses have steadily increased over the years. Work-related stress is a growing problem in South Africa that affects the health and well-being of employees as well as productivity in organisations.

All of which is a result of psychological, psychiatric and mental disorders caused by work-related stress. If you are living with work-related stress, treatment can be as simple as reaching out to the relevant mental health specialists. In this age of holistic therapy and medicine, there is no reason why you should not be living your best life right now.

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Work-related stress

What is work-related stress?

The South African Depression & Anxiety group has reported that 1 in 4 employees are living with depression, caused by work-environmental factors. It starts faintly and arises when work demands exceed the person's capacity to function. Although several factors can cause work-related stress, other sources of work-related stress include conflict with co-workers, managers or job security threats. Being aware of your mental health in the workplace will ensure early detection of burn out, hyper anxiety and depression. Individuals should seek treatment when symptoms of work-related stress become overbearing. With appropriate treatment, you can take back control and manage your condition so that you can lead a fulfilling life.

Symptoms of work-related stress

Very often, people do not recognise the signs and symptoms of work-related stress; instead, we automatically adopt coping mechanisms. We are unfortunately masters at convincing ourselves that everything is 'fine' until they are not anymore and starts catching up with us. Work-related stress can manifest itself in the form of different symptoms, such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Low productivity
  • Anger outbursts
  • Finding it challenging to regulate emotional control
  • Headaches
  • Sudden weight loss or gain

Causes of work-related stress

The leading cause of work-related stress is the person's ability to cope with their ever-increasing workload and psychological make-up. Other factors that play a role are things like general health and personal lifestyle. However, factors such as long hours, excessive workloads, tight deadlines, organisational change, lack of support, and verbal harassment all lead up to work-related stress. The current economic environment suggests that one has to be grateful to have a job, therefore raising concerns about the added pressure are considered a weakness.

Treatment for work-related stress

Luckily there are steps you can take to manage work-related stress. An excellent place to start would be by tracking your stressors. Jot down your work-related stressors and how you respond to them. Record your thoughts and feelings and any information about your environment that you like or dislike. Taking notes can help you identify stress patterns at work and how you respond to them.


Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is considered to be an effective therapy for work-related stress and anxiety and is provided as individual, group or family therapy sessions. Participating in treatment can provide emotional support. It can help you get back to your routine or help you learn coping techniques so that you will be able to manage future stressful events. Another alternative solution that's available to you is cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT is often an effective form of treatment for work-related stress because it can help change negative thought patterns relating to stress.


Prescribed medication is rarely used as a stand-alone stress treatment but preferably combined with focused stress counselling. As with therapy, you may need prescribed medication only for a few months, but do not stop taking any medication without talking with your doctor first. If stopped suddenly, some medicines, such as certain antidepressants, may cause withdrawal-like symptoms. For more information, contact us or book an appointment.

Natural treatments

When it comes to natural treatments for work-related stressors, exercise, and a healthy diet hold immense benefits towards a healthy mental state. When you exercise your body naturally releases feel-good endorphins which aid in relieving everyday stress and anxiety. Practising mindfulness regularly also goes a long way in treating work-related stressors.

What Happens when work-related stress is left untreated?

When it comes to the treatment of mental health conditions, people tend to avoid seeking help. Due to the stigma still surrounding mental health in South Africa, people feel ashamed thereof, and they see their condition as a weakness. If work-related stress is left untreated by a professional medical practitioner, the symptoms may worsen over time, leading to burn-out and frequent panic attacks. If this sounds familiar to you, it is a clear sign that you need to seek help.

Finding help for work-related stress

It would be best if you did not let the stigma of mental health get in the way of seeking treatment for work-related stress. Even when showing mild symptoms, one should not ignore work-related stress and anxiety, because things can escalate without warning, and this makes effective treatment more complicated. If you think you might require psychiatric help, speaking to your doctor is an excellent place to start. They will be able to help you reach out to mental health professionals who will provide you with the best treatment plan. At ZwavelStream, we specialise in mental health treatment and provide our clients with a safe, healthy environment in which they can regain balance in their lives. Therapy, medication, and highly skilled and reliable staff are available to help you on your road to wellness. Every case gets treated with the utmost confidentiality, and treatment plans set according to client-specific basis. Contact us for more information about how you can get the help you need.

March 31, 2023

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