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Middle class redundancies amid the double dip recession have been blamed for the high number of wives suffering from stress induced illnesses. Experts have revealed that over the last two years, scores of women have been struck down by agonising neck and back pain and headaches caused by ‘secondary stress’.
The condition is most prevalent in middle class wives and partners of men who earned six figure salaries who feel a sense of helplessness and are unable to cope with the sudden change in their situation.
MacKenzie Lacy, a member of the British Osteopathic Association who runs Maple Tree Clinic in Harpenden, Herts, said:
”We often hear about how stress is the leading cause of workplace illness and sick days, however we are now noticing a trend in ‘secondary stress’ – where the stress suffered by the person living with the threat of redundancy is transferred to the wife or partner of the person concerned.
”I have seen a number of women who have come in with tension, headaches and pain in their upper back and shoulders.”
The rise in the number of cases has been witnessed by the British Osteopathic Association.
It also emerged that many of those affected have already witnessed the consequences of redundancy among friends, family or neighbours whose partners were the main bread winners in the family – and fear a similar fate.
MacKenzie Lacy continued:
“Their husbands or partners have been, or are about to be made redundant. They are very worried (women) and feel a lack of control and a sense of helplessness.
”The husbands on the other hands are not suffering from these conditions because they feel they are still in control of the situation.
”I started seeing women presenting with these symptoms in 2010, and these are women in their late 40s or early 50s, and are middle class.”
The emergence of the condition comes on the back of a study of 2,000 Brits in long-term relationships by the BOA, which confirmed that worry surrounding the threat of redundancy to a partner is contributing to secondary stress-related health issues.
The study showed:
- Finances proved the overwhelming cause of worry in the average person’s day to day life;
- Worries over a partner’s job security was also a constant concern for one in four;
- Four in ten Brits are currently worried about the threat of redundancy on their family and acknowledge the impact it’s had on their physical health.
As a result, a third of the study have endured symptoms or ailments which they know arose out of stress, while a wary three in ten have already suffered at the hands of redundancy in the past – either to a friend or partner.
Seven in ten Brits say that their family wouldn’t be able to cope should the financial breadwinner of the family suffer redundancy.
That worry has caused regular headaches and fatigue in many, while a third suffer from neck pain and one in four endures back pain brought about by stress.
Indeed a further 30% of the study has suffered illness or injury from worrying about their partner’s job.
Kelston Chorley, head of professional development at the BOA, said the condition is a consequence of modern life amid the economic downturn:
”Secondary stress’ occurs when a person’s worry about their partner’s job security and the threat of financial ruin causes physical and mental injury in themselves.
”The condition has risen significantly in the wake of the double dip recession and is particularly prevalent in the middle class wives of recently redundant high flyers.
”Typically, the change of status, worries over childcare and finances are leading these women to suffer high levels of anxiety which in turn often transmits into physical pain, higher risks of injury and chronic muscular tension.
”These conditions are not in themselves serious but add significantly to stress levels and one’s ability to cope with everyday activities.”