Problem-solving not diagnosis: Part I Medical Leave


Problem-solving not diagnosis: Part I Medical Leave

  • By Ian Bradley
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When people first experience work place problems, they say something like:

My boss is impossible, he never recognizes my efforts.


I can’t see how I’m ever going to finish everything that I have to do.

Whether the problem involves poor communication, lack of employee recognition or some perceived injustice, the issue is clear. However, if things get worse progressing to a disability leave then something strange happens. The initial crystal-clear issue that was the source of the problem fades into obscurity.

It’s all a function of how the system manages work place disabilities for psychological causes. Here’s a typical scenario.

As I stated above, the story begins with some concrete issue, however, if unaddressed, the worker’s distress increases.  The distress can take many forms, but in my experience, worry and preoccupation are common signs. Unfortunately, both limit the amount of processing capacity and attention for other activities; thus, worry about work paradoxically makes work worse.

The emotional distress can also provoke physical symptoms -anything from fatigue to heart palpitations often these physical symptoms themselves become an additional source of stress as the individual worries now about his or her physical, as well as mental, health.

In addition to stress and anxiety, the affected worker might also begin to feel pessimistic about finding a solution to the workplace problem or his own mounting level of distress. The pessimism grows into depression that, combined with the existing stress, begins to interfere with sleep further reducing the worker’s ability to cope.

Somewhere near this point, the individual contemplates making an appointment with a doctor to seek aid, and perhaps, a disability leave.

If you were to meet someone at this stage, the specific work problems and the distress are equally apparent. The client is still coping, perhaps even trying to find solutions or adapt, although his/her work efficiency is impaired by stress or depression.

(To be continued)

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