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by Darryl L. Stinson, M.D.

The most important piece of equipment in the industry is often most neglected and rarely ever calibrated. I'm talking about the human.

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by Darryl Stinson, M.D.

The most important piece of equipment in the industry is often most neglected and rarely ever calibrated. I'm talking about the human. From management to laborers, too many companies are suffering from strained and stressed employees. In this article I want to focus mainly on managers. They are at the greatest risk for breakdown, and I need not waste ink explaining why. Not addressing and treating them can cause a ripple effect, both down and up the company's personnel structure.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), "job stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury." Most managers will experience job stress at some point, but each person’s case can present itself differently. This is similar to going to the beach. Fair skin will get a painful sunburn in a short amount of time, while darker skin may take a few hours. Eventually both will suffer. This is why the effects of job stress vary from one person to another, making it difficult to identify when it occurs.
The symptoms of job stress can be missed by even the best physician, so it's not surprising people will not recognize it themselves. The "early warning signs" of job stress include headaches, sleep disturbances, difficulty in concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, job dissatisfaction and low morale.
The complaint of headache can typically lead a doctor in a wrong direction, causing even more stress as test after test concludes nothing.
Sleep disturbances include insomnia or sleeping too much.
Difficulty in concentrating will present itself as being impatient upon reading or problem-solving.
Short temper is a symptom the manager’s co-worker and family will recognize long before she or he does.
Upset stomach varies from a decreased appetite with nausea to heartburn and bloating.
Job dissatisfaction and low morale really need no further explanation, but do point to a more advanced stage of job stress.
As you can see, job stress may be confused for other illnesses before being correctly identified. Moreover, job stress is known to cause other health problems such as cardiovascular disease (i.e. heart attacks), back pain, upper extremity disorders, major depression and burnout. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “healthcare expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress.”
Prevention and treatment of job stress for managers differs to that of laborers. Organizational changes with a comprehensive approach are the best method to address the "assembly line". But managers require an individual plan, with monitoring done by an experienced clinician. The first step is to get a complete work up, which includes identifying any current medical problems or risk of potential illness. This avoids misdiagnosing job stress. After completing all tests and treating any found physical conditions, there should be a consult to review the manager’s mental health and provide them with a stress management strategy.
The importance of recognizing job stress early is critical and there are numerous studies that continue to focus on how to balance the challenges faced by managers. It is important to note that reducing stress in the work place is a continuous process and not a one time fix. Every human reacts differently to stress. Early detection can minimize health issues and maintain the productivity and job satisfaction of managers in the workplace.

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