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Psychosocial stress and health problems: Health in Sweden: The National Public Health Report 2012. Chapter 6
Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden.
Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS). Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. (Biologisk psykologi och behandlingsforskning)
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2012 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1403-4948, E-ISSN 1651-1905, Vol. 40, no 9 suppl, 121-134 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Stress can be defined as an imbalance between demands placed on us and our ability to manage them. The body’s stress system is adapted to confront sudden physical threats. Today, however, we are increasingly exposed to prolonged mental and psychosocial stress. Prolonged stress can give rise to a range of problems: poor performance, chronic fatigue, disinterest, dejection, memory disturbances, sleep problems, numbness and diffuse muscle pains. These symptoms may eventually be followed by depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome, and ultimately chronic pain conditions, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Sleep is a vital counterbalance to stress as it enables the body to recover properly. Good sleep is thus essential to our ability to cope with stress and stay healthy.

The decline in the mental wellbeing of the population since the 1980s has been accompanied by a rise in the number of pain complaints. A similar development in respect of symptoms such as anxiousness, nervousness and anxiety, constant fatigue and neck and shoulder pain and sleeping problems has been observed in the population. This increase, which continued throughout the 1990s and culminated in 2001, was followed by a slight fall. However, there was no decline among young people in the early 2000s. Rather, the number of complaints continued to increase.

Since the mid-1990s, the proportion of people suffering from stress symptoms has risen and fallen in step with employment levels. Since the beginning of the 1980s, growing numbers of people in gainful employment have experienced their work as hectic and mentally taxing. This may indicate that the balance between healthy and unhealthy factors impacting the actively employed has tilted towards less favourable conditions. Mental stress at work has increased among women and men, particularly among county council employees. Repeated organisational restructuring may explain why hectic and mentally taxing work has become more commonplace. Mental ill-health along with musculoskeletal disorders are the most frequent diagnoses in connection with newly granted disability pensions. Sickness absence trends largely reflect the trend in stress symptoms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2012. Vol. 40, no 9 suppl, 121-134 p.
Keyword [en]
psychosocial health, age, gender differences
National Category
Psychology Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85729DOI: 10.1177/1403494812459469Local ID: P2973OAI: diva2:584537
Available from: 2013-01-09 Created: 2013-01-09 Last updated: 2013-03-18Bibliographically approved

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Lundberg, UlfPerski, AleksanderÅkerstedt, Torbjörn
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Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS)Department of PsychologyStress Research Institute
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