It makes sense that if a person feels hassled and unfairly picked on at work, they will probably wind up dealing with some negative feelings.
In fact, being bullied at work could trigger a mental health condition or at least some related symptoms. That means work relationships may lead a person to seek out prescriptions like sedatives, anti-depressants or even sleep aids. European research says that the problem could result not only from receiving workplace bullying directly, but could even affect those who witness it at work.
The study surveyed over 6,000 adult public employees in Helsinki, Finland about occasions of bullying at work during the years of 2000-2002. Researchers then examined national records for prescription drugs like sedatives, anti-depressants, tranquilizers and sleeping pills for an eight-year window surrounding those years. The study aimed to see if there was a connection between instances of office bullying and surges in filled prescriptions for these kinds of drugs.
Office bullying creates a ripple effect
The study found the following:
- One in 20 surveyed said they presently felt bullied at work
- One in five women and one in eight men reported having been previously bullied at the office
- Overall, one in seven to one in 10 said they were directly affected by office bullying
- One half of all participants admitted to having witnessed someone else at work being bullied
- Ten percent of the witnesses said that they had seen it happen frequently
Comparing reports of intimidating work environments and filled psychoactive drug prescriptions suggested a connection between the two. This was the case even once the research team factored out other influences like prior mental health history, economic status, and experience with childhood bullying or a person’s weight. Men who had been bullied were less likely than bullied women to seek out medications in order to deal with their work-related stress, although both sexes did go to the pharmacy for help. Simply witnessing the bad behavior showed similar results with male witnesses being twice as likely to use the prescriptions and female witnesses being 53% more likely to take the medications in order to cope.
Even in the day of the virtual office, people still spend a significant amount of time in the workplace. Most of us derive a great deal of our self-worth and value from how well we perform and relate to those in our chosen profession. When that source of dignity is attacked many people feel vulnerable and, according to the Finnish research, look for ways to assuage the pain. Addressing workplace intimidation could be just one of many do-able methods which help put a stop to prescription drug abuse.