Every fifth employee suffers from psychological risk factors – knowledge of SWR

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















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The risk of cardiovascular disease increases

The number of absenteeism days due to cardiovascular disease has dropped by 10 per cent – in just under 60 days per 100 insured persons a year. So writes DAK in this year’s health report. That sounds good, but absences due to stress, anxiety and depression have increased over the years.

According to DAK, almost every fifth employee now suffers from at least one of these three psychological risk factors. According to the study, 22 percent of all women and 16 percent of all men are affected. And these risk factors not only endanger mental but also physical health, warns psychologist Hans-Dieter Nolting. Above all, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases significantly due to mental illness:

“These physical factors, such as a depressive illness or psychologically induced exhaustion, rank in their importance as a risk factor on the same level as obesity and are added to these physical factors as an increased risk factor.” If you smoke without depression. is less dangerous than smoking with depression, says psychology.



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


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Healthy behavior in daily life and mental illness – an 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 released more and more, inflammations feed into the body. In addition, those affected also tend to behave in a way that is detrimental to their health, says Christoph Hermann-Lingen, a specialist in psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy. A break from smoking to relax, the frustration of eating against stress. In general, people find it harder to behave healthily when they have a mental illness.

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

Workplace: imbalance between effort and reward

Especially in the workplace, there are many factors that promote stress and anxiety. The main problem: the so-called reward crisis, a gap between performance and reward. Hans-Dieter Nolting believes that if employees exaggerate themselves and experience appropriate appreciation, it is not stressful. However, once there is an imbalance, i.e. someone achieves a lot but is not rewarded accordingly, this has the effect of negative stress.



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

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


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Less than half of employees can take preventative measures

Time pressure and high workload on the one hand, poor working conditions, very little money and lack of evaluation on the other. Almost nine percent of all respondents stated in the health report that they were affected. It is therefore important to have a holistic program instead of individual offers. According to psychologist Hermann-Lingen, this is the only way for those affected to understand the meaning of offers. “It may not seem appealing to a depressed worker to pursue a physical fitness program.”

However, supply must also be extended across the board. Particularly affected receive fewer offers from their employers. Not even half of the employees can take preventive measures from their employer.

The lowest is the offer in professions that do not require a degree. If there are offers from employers, employees often do not know about them. Awareness of existing offers from health insurance funds can also be improved. More than one in three do not know this.

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