Photo: Flickr/sergeant killjoy
Anxiety is a much more important risk factor for prolonged and frequent sick leave than previously thought, according to a new study from Norway.The study examined anxiety and depression levels among 13,436 participants and followed them for up to six years to record their sick days.
After controlling for possible causal factors such as socioeconomic status and physical health, they made three new findings:
1) Common mental disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety) increase the risk of very prolonged absence (over 90 days) and repeated episodes of sick leave.
2) The risk of prolonged sick leave is highest among those with both anxiety and depression simultaneously.
3) Anxiety a stronger risk factor for prolonged and frequent sick leave than depression.
The results suggest that both sick leave and mental health problems affect each other and cause a “vicious circle” of repeated work absence.
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