Wednesday, April 2, 2014

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Symptoms of Mental Illness Often Interfere With Performance at Work

Distress (Photo credit: Richard Masoner)
If you follow mental health news at all, you have probably heard about some recent changes to the manner in which mental health problems are diagnosed. An updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (i.e., DSM-5) was published in May of 2013. Some of the revisions to DSM-5 have been controversial, especially those that involve changes to the criteria of certain mental disorders.

What can get lost amidst the controversy is the fact that symptoms of mental illness can be disruptive even for people who do not meet diagnostic criteria for any mental disorder. For example, symptoms of anxiety, depression, or stress can lead to emotional distress or interfere with one's ability to function well in one's many roles (e.g., social and family responsibilities, educational or occupational obligations).

Rick Nauert, Ph.D. (PsychCentral) describes recent research indicating that these symptoms often create problems for people at work, even among those who have not been diagnosed with a mental illness. Adults experiencing symptoms such as emotional distress, insomnia, fatigue, chronic anxiety, or depression, may find that their ability to function at work is impaired (e.g., reduced productivity, difficulty getting along with co-workers, increased absenteeism).

According to Dr. Nauret:
Further analysis suggested that significant numbers of Americans did not meet diagnostic criteria for depression or anxiety, yet still had similarly poor mental health as diagnosed individuals.
An implication of this study is that many people may need assistance even if they do not have diagnosable mental disorders.