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Avoiding Mental Breakdowns in Demanding Professions: Breaking the Cycle

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Experiencing a considerable amount of stress at work is acceptable, but too much stress can cause a mental breakdown, especially in demanding professions.

Written by

Dr. Ssneha. B

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vipul Chelabhai Prajapati

Published At September 4, 2023
Reviewed AtSeptember 4, 2023


Work-related stress is inevitable even if one loves the work they do. Sometimes, pressure at work can be high, especially when one works to complete a project within a given deadline or if the assignment is challenging. This is normal, but if the work stress prolongs for a long duration, then it could affect one’s physical and emotional well-being. The consequences of work-related stress can be as mild as getting more flu or colds to as serious as developing heart disease or metabolic syndrome. While stress is common in all jobs, it can be more prevalent in certain demanding professions. It is necessary to follow certain measures to tackle stress due to work and continue to work efficiently.

What Are the Common Stressors at the Workplace?

The risks to mental health at work are referred to as psychosocial risks. Some of the common stressors at the workplace are as follows:

  • Long, inflexible, and unsocial hours of work.

  • Being less skilled for work or under-use of skills.

  • Fewer staff at the workplace resulting in excessive workloads.

  • Poor control over workload or job design.

  • Less support from colleagues or harassment, bullying, or violence.

  • Poor or unsafe working conditions.

  • A job role that is not clear.

  • Organizational culture involving negative behaviors.

  • Discrimination.

  • Insufficient pay or job insecurity.

  • Under or over promotion.

There is no proper protection for health and safety in the majority of the global workforce. Workers in this category usually work in unsafe working environments, face discrimination, work for long hours, and have little or no access to financial or social security. All of these can have an impact on one’s mental well-being. Though psychosocial risks are common in all professions, those in demanding professions are at an elevated risk of experiencing mental health issues.

What Are the Consequences of Excessive Stress Due to Work?

Neglecting excessive stress due to work can have the following impacts:

  • Insomnia (inability to sleep).

  • Fatigue.

  • Anger, irritability, or sadness.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Type 2 diabetes.

  • Heart diseases.

  • Prone to developing various illnesses.

  • Upset stomach or other gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or constipation.

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.

  • Anxiety or depression.

  • Deteriorated performance at work.

  • Mood swings, disinterest, and isolation.

Which Are the Most Demanding Professions?

Certain occupations can result in more pain than gain. These occupations can be stressful, offer little pay, or can fail to gain respect from society. The stress can be due to the huge responsibilities that they encompass, the time frames given to complete the given work, or the amount of control over the given situation. There can be jobs that people dislike, yet they continue to work to make ends meet. This can have an impact on one’s mental health. Some of the most demanding professions are as follows:

  • Physicians, Dentists, and Nurses: These occupations need great sacrifice, skill, and academic knowledge. Many healthcare professionals neglect getting treated for their mental health issues just because they do not want to accept that they need help. Some of the common stressors for these professionals include demanding patients, continued schooling, long hours of work, and malpractice lawsuits.

  • Social Workers: Social workers are on the run since they strive to help orphaned children, refugees, the elderly, the homeless, fight for the rights of a particular population, and so on. This work requires a lot of hard work and dedication, which can pose a challenge to one’s mental health. The burnout that social workers experience can be due to fatigue or compassion.

  • Teachers: Teachers spread knowledge and, in the process, undergo a lot of stress. Teachers usually spend long hours standing to take classes, deal with students with learning disabilities, spend time even after work to prepare schedules for the next day, and so on, which can affect their mental health.

  • Food Service Staff: It is common to see many waiters at restaurants who stand for long hours and work throughout the day but are paid less. Harsh and rude comments from customers and higher officials can further add to their stress. Even food delivery staff are also exposed to stress since they keep rushing to different places to ensure that the food is delivered on time.

  • Maintenance and Ground Workers: These workers are contacted only in situations when their services are required. These workers usually work odd hours and in hard conditions but are paid less. Being hired only when there is a demand and staying idle without any income in the remaining time can affect the mental health of such workers.

  • Accountants and Financial Advisors: The major cause of stress for accountants is that they have to handle others’ accounts with great responsibility. This can be stressful because taking up the responsibility for someone else’s fortune means that these individuals have to take the blame if something goes wrong. This can have a detrimental impact on their mental health.

  • Police Officials: This is another demanding job since police officials work round the clock and do not have any specific holidays. They are exposed to high-stress levels and are frequently forced and expected to work overtime.

Other demanding professions include salespeople, real estate agents, administrative support staff, lawyers, and artists.

How Can Mental Breakdowns in Demanding Professions Be Avoided?

Mental breakdowns in demanding professions can be avoided in the following ways:

  • Be Aware: One must be aware of how various work-related stressors can affect one physically and mentally. Only if one is healthy physically and mentally can they focus on their work and continue to work productively.

  • Jot Down the Stressors: Recognizing and jotting down stressful situations can enable one to identify what is bothering them. This can be an uncomfortable working environment, long hours of travel to work, and so on. Tracking stress triggers like places, events, or people can enable one to identify the stressor correctly and work on those to eliminate them.

  • Time Management: Instead of attempting to do everything at a given time, one can prioritize the work and list it according to the level of importance. A specific time frame can be allotted to those works that require longer hours and increased concentration.

  • Take Some Time to Reset the Mind: Taking mini breaks in between work and listening to music or going for a short walk can do the trick. This can help relax the mind. Working continuously without any breaks in between can make the brain tired, which can affect productivity.

  • Work-Personal Life Balance: As much as work is important, spending time with friends and family is also equally important. One can maintain this balance by refraining from doing any office work post-working hours and going on a short vacation whenever possible.

  • Get Help From a Strong Support System: Sharing one’s thoughts and feelings with a loved one can reduce the stress to half. Discussing one’s stress at work with loved ones can sometimes pave the way to new solutions offered by friends or family members.

  • Self-Care: Whenever one feels that work pressure is getting over the head, it is high time one allots time for self-care by eating well, sleeping sufficiently, and doing fun activities.

  • Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can lower stress levels and anxiety.

  • Refrain From Gossiping: Conflict at the workplace can have a huge impact on one’s mental health. The best way to avoid this is by reducing contact with those who are prone to gossip. One can avoid listening to their gossip by changing the topic, ignoring the conversation, or gently walking away, saying that one has other work to complete.

  • Need Not Be Extremely Perfect: Following perfectionism in all the things that one does can be stressful. Sufficient and necessary effort should be put in, and failure should not be taken too personally. One must retrospect and correct the mistakes in the next project or task rather than brooding over it.

  • Take Short Vacations: Disconnecting from work and other work-related activities and going on a short trip for a few hours or a few days can help rejuvenate the mind.

  • Seek Counseling: One can take help from a psychologist or a therapist to identify ways to cope with stress.

What Are the Recommendations Put Forth by WHO to Protect and Promote Mental Health at Work?

The recommendations put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) are as follows:

  • Training managers to identify and respond to the emotional distress of their workers.

  • Train workers about the importance of good mental health, spread awareness, and clear the stigma against mental health conditions at work.

  • Interventions for individuals to deal with stress and lower mental health symptoms by incorporating psychosocial interventions and other leisure-based physical activities.


Experiencing mental breakdowns is common in all professions, but it can be considerably high in demanding professions like the healthcare sector, police officials, teachers, and so on. These professions may require extended working hours, sacrifice, and extreme dedication. Just as catering to others’ needs is important, taking care of one’s mental health is also equally important. Hence, those in demanding professions should carve some time for their self-care, and if they experience any of the symptoms of stress mentioned above, they should not hesitate to take help from a psychiatrist or a therapist.

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Dr. Vipul Chelabhai Prajapati
Dr. Vipul Chelabhai Prajapati



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