Every Fifth Employee Has Psychological Risk Factors – Knowing SWR

Nearly a fifth suffer from stress, anxiety or depression and are therefore at psychological risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This is the result of the new DAK health report.

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Increases the risk of cardiovascular disease

The number of days of absence due to cardiovascular disease fell 10 percent – to less than 60 days per 100 insured people per year. This is what DAK wrote in this year’s health report. That sounds good, but absenteeism due to stress, anxiety and depression has been increasing for years.

According to the DAK, nearly every fifth employee now has at least one of these three psychological risk factors. According to the study, 22 percent of all women and 16 percent of all men were infected. These risk factors threaten not only mental health, but physical health as well, warns psychologist Hans-Dieter Nolting. Above all, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease is significantly increased by mental illnesses:

“These physical factors, such as depressive illness or psychiatric fatigue, rank in importance as a risk factor at approximately the same level as obesity and are added to these physical factors as a factor that increases risk.” If you smoke without depression. The psychiatrist says it is less dangerous than smoking with depression.

The “classic” physical risk factors for cardiovascular disease are hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and obesity.

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Healthy behavior in daily life and mental illness – interaction

There are two main factors for this: the biological mechanisms in the body and the behavior of the mentally ill. Depression means constant stress for the body: neurotransmitters are increasingly released, fueling inflammation in the body. In addition, sufferers also tend to behave in a way that is harmful to their health, says Christoph Hermann Lingen, a specialist in psychosomatics and psychotherapy. Smoking break to relax, frustration eat against stress. In general, it is difficult for people to behave in a healthy way when they have a mental illness.

“(…) If someone is in the middle of depression, you won’t be able to motivate them to exercise regularly or even take their medication.”

Workplace: imbalance between effort and reward

In the workplace in particular, there are many factors that fuel stress and anxiety. The main problem: the so-called reward crisis, a gap between performance and reward. Hans-Dieter Nolting believes that if employees stress themselves and experience corresponding appreciation, it is not stressful. However, once something goes wrong, i.e. someone achieves a lot but is not rewarded accordingly, it has a negative stress effect.

Hans-Dieter Nolting at a press conference on the DAK health report (Photo: picture-alliance/Reportdienste, dpa)

Hans-Dieter Nolting, Director General of the IGES Institute, at the press conference for the DAK Health Report. For the DAK study, 7,100 working women and men were surveyed representatively by the Forsa Institute.

Alliance Pictures / Services Report


Less than half of the workers can take preventive measures

Time pressure and large workload on the one hand, poor working conditions, lack of money and lack of appreciation on the other. Nearly nine percent of all respondents in the health report stated that they had been affected. So it is important to have a comprehensive program rather than individual offerings. According to psychologist Hermann Lingen, this is the only way for those affected to understand the feasibility of performances. “It may not seem attractive to a depressed worker to attend a fitness program.”

However, the offer must also be expanded across the board. Those affected in particular receive lower offers from their employers. Even half of the workers cannot take preventive measures from the employer.

The lowest supply is in occupations that do not require a degree. If there are offers from employers, employees often do not know about them. Awareness of current offerings by health insurance funds can also be improved. More than one in three does not know this.

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