Work-related stress and depressive disorders

J Psychosom Res. 2001 Nov;51(5):697-704. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(01)00255-0.


The 1980s and 1990s has seen a considerable change in the workforce structure in industrialised economies. Employees are commonly faced with greater demands and less job security, both of which are likely to be stressful, thus psychological disorders especially depression may increasingly be caused by work-related stressors. An issue of this journal in 1997 (Vol. 43, No. 1) was indeed devoted to stress in the workplace and since then, these workplace changes have progressed and a review seems timely. Because interpreting results of cross-sectional studies is limited by a potential reciprocal relation between work stressors and depression (since "effort after meaning" can influence how "distressed" individuals report stressors at work), this review largely focuses on prospective or predictive studies to minimise this bias. Not surprisingly, the findings from occupational stress research is consistent with the more general life event stress literature showing that specific acute work-related stressful experiences contribute to "depression" and, more importantly perhaps, that enduring "structural" occupational factors, which may differ according to occupation, can also contribute to psychological disorders. There are significant implications for employees, their families, employers and indeed the wider community.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Work*