Stress blog

With a little help from our friends

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. May 11, 2011

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

I had dinner with friends on Saturday, including a close friend whom I had not seen in some time. He told a complicated medical story. Every several months, he would miss a few days of work with a nagging upper respiratory infection. He wasn't sleeping. He wasn't exercising and had gained weight, and that resulted in some major changes in his thyroid medication. He felt miserable, especially on Sundays when he thought about returning to work on Monday. He was worried and puzzled by his declining health.

Some background — ten years ago my friend landed his dream job. He became the certified public accountant for a small manufacturing company making high-end countertops that could easily be sterilized. The market initially was kitchens and restaurants, but the product also took off among dental, medical and veterinary offices because it was easy to clean and keep germ-free. The company's yearly revenue jumped from $6 to $24 million, and yet my friend was given no help. The situation became more complicated when the company opened two additional plants in different states. My friend had to learn a bewildering number of regulatory, compliance and revenue issues.

As we talked, the connection between my friend's symptoms and his work situation became clear. We brainstormed some options and how he might discuss them with senior management. Until we talked, my friend hadn't recognized that his illnesses were connected to stress at work. Nor did he realize that his weight gain was related to stress.

A pleasant dinner with friends provided an important reminder for me of why it's so important to have a support network. We all need people who care about us and can help us get back on track when we've lost our way.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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May 11, 2011