Anxiety makes people take time off work

Anxiety can be an important contributor to employees taking time off work, new research has found. In collaboration with British and Australian teams, investigators from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health discovered the condition is a more important risk factor for absenteeism than previously believed.

According to the study, common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression can increase the likelihood of a person taking a prolonged absence of more than 90 days, as well as going on repeated episodes of sick leave.

It was demonstrated that this risk is greatest when individuals experience anxiety and depression one after the other, while the research also suggested the former may be more important in this regard than the latter.

Anna Kristin Knudsen, a PhD student at the University of Bergen and the Division of Mental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, described the findings as surprising.

She stated: "Anxiety seems to be a relatively stable risk factor for sick leave, as we found an increased risk of sickness absence up to six years after the anxiety level was assessed."

Chartered Psychologist Ros Taylor comments:

"Psychologists working in business have always been aware of the huge part anxiety has to play in workplace sickness absence.

From my experience, relationships are top of the list as causes of anxiety. Poor leadership revealing itself in an angry or bullying boss; a team that is not inclusive; colleagues who are unsupportive... all create anxiety and fear in the workplace. A close second is a lack of training for the job sitting alongside ridiculous deadlines that create a culture of failure.

Has this increased of late with the current recession? Absolutely. I have ample evidence in companies of more bad behaviour, shorter tempers and less support at work. Not my clients of course."