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Warnings over 'relentless stress'


A leading doctor has raised concerns about the growing number of British adults who are suffering “sustained and relentless” stress.

Dr Martin Baggaley, medical director, South London and Maudsley Trust, warned that prolonged stress can lead to long-term medical and physical illnesses after a poll found that many have been feeling stressed for more than a year.

He said there is a growing problem of long-term stress in Britain.

The survey found that more than two fifths of (44%) of British adults admit that they are currently going through a period of stress.

Of these, 28% said they have been feeling this way for more than a year, the Bupa survey found.

And more than a quarter said they feel regularly close to “breaking point”.

The poll of 10,000 adults also found that stress was most pertinent to 45 to 54 year olds - with half of people in this age group admitting they are feeling stressed - and least prevalent in people over the age of 55 - with only 38% saying they are currently stressed.

More women than men also admitted to feeling the strain, with 49% of women and 39% of men saying they feel stressed.

Dr Baggaley said: “There is a growing problem of long-term stress in this country, which needs to be addressed.

“This research shows stress is extremely common in this country. While low-level and irregular bouts of stress can be beneficial and manageable, it’s concerning to see that so many people are experiencing sustained and relentless stress.

“If left unchecked for a prolonged period of time, stress can cause much more serious, long-term mental and physical illnesses such as anxiety and depression, and be a contributing factor in health problems such as heart disease and even obesity.

“It’s important that people realise that stress is not just something that you have to put up with. If you recognise that you are under unusual pressure, try self-help techniques - for example deep breathing, taking exercise and avoiding unhealthy behaviours - these can all make a real difference and help you to feel back in control.

“If self-help isn’t having an effect, or if you’re concerned about your stress levels or feeling very anxious, you should always talk to your GP or a healthcare professional.”




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Readers' comments (10)

  • well it's !
    gouverment, demarnd at work or not, cost of living,less money more pressure,etc


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  • and it is not just all in the mind and concerned with an individual's own world view and how they perceive and cope with their problems even though it does affect some more than others, or not at all (depends on their experiences) as psychologists, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and other mental health specialists and experts in positive psychology like Seligman would have everybody believe. External stressors such as the financial crisis and jobs, or lack of with a family to feed, are all very real.

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  • tinkerbell

    Pushing people beyond what's reasonable. Continual frustration. We are not machines but even a computer shuts down when overloaded.

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  • don't worry we will soon have robots to look after us and take over much over nursing care. they will probably be programmed to collect and process personal data as well.

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  • Stress is often scoffed at by people who are 'doing pretty nicely thank you' or middle class well off bods. For the rest of us who keep the economy ticking over with our taxes and cover for the governments hidden agenda of flogging off the NHS to its pals, it is sometimes unbearable.

    Youngsters are worried about having somewhere secure to live (and if they are lucky raising a family); and trying to find a secure job, hopefully with a future. Older people like me are worrying constantly about our younger people and the terrible cuts in living standards, lack of housing and school places, cuts to our pensions (that were supposed to compensate for poorly paid professional jobs), and the fact that younger nurses probably wont get them at all.

    Health care is getting increasingly centralised, people find it hard to get OOH care as they cant afford a £15-20 taxi fare in the middle of the night each way for their children to be treated. 3 week waits for GP appointments; and then has to be within the "working day" (no wonder OOH are inundated), many people are on precarious contracts or temp work, if they take a day off to go to the GP/hospital etc they wont get paid and they may or may not have a job to go back to at all if they do take a day off.

    Being labelled as scroungers/layabouts/work shy/cheats; having to face unfriendly, unhelpful and sometimes just downright rude DHSS staff and stripped of their dignity has made some feel suicidal. I no because I treat them. Young people, fathers, grandfathers in tears, and they don't want their families to know about it as they feel ashamed.

    I often get chest pains at work, due I am sure, to stress. I have also started to suffer indigestion and now have to take medication for this and hypertension, all within the last 2 and a half years. I know that many nursing colleagues are experiencing and get the same symptoms.

    Lack of staff, increasing expectations of patients and their relatives, negative media attacks against nurses, redundancies, down grading, recruitment of foreign nurses at low bands, flogging off services to private providers who care little for staff satisfaction or pastoral care, wondering whether we will have a job to go at all or that our children and grandchildren will have an NHS at all, let alone a home or a job.

    This government is shameful.

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  • I find it difficult to believe that it is only 2/5th of adults (44%) that are going through a period of stress.

    I wasn't asked neither was anyone that I know of.

    There must be far more affluent people out there that I reaslised.

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  • I have always considered myself to be a normal working Joe. I work hard, I'm not rich and not likely to be. I'm afraid that I have to take issue with the person who is making references to 'middle class well off bods' and 'affluent people'. Stress is complex and has myriad causes. I'll support ANYONE who requires it from me, regardless of their colour, creed, background, social group, etc, etc. Stress, and the physical and mental problems which result from it, doesn't care about how much money you do or don't have.

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  • I have a son who is in his fifties. He is single and works as a care assistant tending men with learning difficulties. Although he is in a housing association flat he is finding he can't cope financially. He is depressed and very stressed.
    We have a lovely niece who trained as a nurse. She is well liked on the ward and is very efficient but finds the hours of work and occasional aggressive treatment by the public and the media very stressful and is actively considering leaving nursing.
    We must have a radical change of culture and we must share our responsibilities more fairly.

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  • Anonymous | 7-Nov-2013 10:24 am

    disgraceful that society treats these willing, dedicated and vital workers so poorly. many would not and would not be able to do this jobs. the question is how and when something is going to be done about it before causing further casualties among workers and their patients/clients.

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  • based on what's reported in this article, i'm not sure how dr baggeley reaches the conclusion "There is a growing problem of long-term stress..." it could be declining for all the reported evidence tells us!

    perhaps some relaxation techniques would help dr b calm down and stop making unsubstantiated claims ;-)

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