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The International Stress Management AssociationUK

Facts About Stress


Stress is:

“That which arises when the pressure placed upon an individual exceeds the capacity of that individual to cope.” Confederation of British Industry

“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them.” HSE

Those pressures may come from a number of different sources, and when their combined effect is overwhelming, stress occurs. This means that stress is not good for you. Stress is an unhealthy state of body or mind or both.

For many years, people have referred to the Flight or Fight response as the stress response. But Flight or Fight is a one-off reaction to a perceived challenge or pressure and as such, is a safety response, ensuring the individual is alerted to possible threats allowing them to take avoiding action.

However, continually being in this state means that the body chemicals associated with Flight or Fight are constantly being stimulated which may create symptoms of, or cause, ill health.


Work-related Stress, Depression or Anxiety in Great Britain

Stress, depression or anxiety by cause, averaged 2009/10-2011/12

Source: Labour Force Survey:


Industries with higher than average rates of stress, depression or anxiety, averaged 2016/17- 2018/19

Source: Labour Force Survey:


Work-related Stress, depression or anxiety per 100,000 workers: new and long-standing

Source: Labour Force Survey:


Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.

  • The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show: The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19 was 602,000, a prevalence rate of 1,800 per 100,000 workers. This was not statistically significantly different from the previous period.
  • The rate of work-related stress depression and anxiety was broadly flat but has shown signs of increasing in recent years.
  • The number of new cases was 246,000, an incidence rate of 740 per 100,000 workers. The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2018/19 was 12.8 million days. This equated to an average of 21.2 days lost per case. Working days lost per worker due to self-reported work related stress, depression or anxiety shows no clear trend.
  • In 2018/19 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 54% of all working days lost due to ill health.
  • Stress, depression or anxiety is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defense. By occupation, professional occupations that are common across public service industries (such as healthcare workers; teaching professionals and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress as compared to all jobs.
  • The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support (2009/10-2011/12).

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