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Mild stress can lead to long-term disability and need for benefits

Mild stress can cause long-term disability that prevents people from working and therefore causes the need for long-term disability benefits according to a new study. The conclusion of the study conducted by the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom is that the consequences of milder forms of stress should be taken with a straight face.

Researchers and medical professionals have long known that mental disorders can be a cause of disability, but the six year study has shown the previous thoughts on mild psychological distress underestimated public health issues and its affect on long-term disability.

The university study was conducted in Sweden and looked at the lives of more than 17,000 working adults in Stockholm. The study began in 2002 and concluded in 2007. Over the course of the study, participants completed a survey with questions that asked the participants to evaluate their stress and mental health levels. Researchers monitored the self-evaluations throughout the study time period.

Researchers conducted a follow-up period where they measured the number of people after the survey who received disability benefits. Of the people who participated in the study 649 began receiving disability benefits after its conclusion, and of the people who received disability benefits 203 received benefits for mental health issues. The remaining people received benefits for physical problems.

Participants who assessed themselves as having high stress levels were more likely to start receiving long-term disability benefits during the follow-up period. More surprisingly, the study revealed that participants who assessed their stress level as mild raised the risk of receiving disability benefits by as much as 70 percent.

Source: Health.usnews.com, "Even mild stress can lead to disability, study says," 3/24/11

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