Director of UCAM Chair of Assessment and Specialist Medicine, jose manuel vicenteIs INSS Medical Inspectorin which he acts as the head Disability Assessment Unit Of Guipuzcoa.
What is that disease they call Sisyphemia?
We gave Sisyphemia a name in an article in March 2022. This is the physical and mental exhaustion of a person who works tirelessly, but it is not fatigue. Two circumstances occur when the disease appears: an activity that has a very high mental load and, in addition, they are very competitive workers, with a strong sense of perfection. But both things have to happen. That is why it appears in activities that involve excessive mental overload, with almost unattainable and daily, non-timed objectives, which generally require attention, concentration and execution ability in highly responsible tasks. , which cannot be postponed until tomorrow. This combination causes the appearance of Sisyphemia, which gives rise to anxiety and depression and can lead to physical processes such as skin problems, asthma, obesity, diabetes and even heart attacks.
In which professions does this happen?
Mainly among doctors. Also in financial, audit and press and communication activities. In a graphic way, we are talking about those tasks in which it is generally said that this is for tomorrow. This also happens in research, self-employment and freelance work. The majority are high level graduates. Similarly, it happens in scholarship holders.
We are experiencing moments of great job insecurity: either I submit myself and show that I am the best or they call someone else. People with Sisyphemia have the profile of someone who is very competitive. It must be remembered that both the things must be there in illness, the worker must be very competitive and be the best in his work. But no matter how much of a perfectionist a person is, the condition that must be met is that he or she has a sissyfessional job. Then there are those for whom the burden is too great, but because of the type of person they are, they do not suffer from it. To understand each other, if you are too lazy or if you say ‘I comply and it’s over’, it doesn’t happen to you.
How do people suffering from this disease end up?
Sissyphemia, when established, is a serious deterioration. In many cases there comes a time when one is unable to work. There are situations of sick leave and there are also cases of people who have ended up with permanent disability because the deterioration that has occurred in their condition cannot be corrected.
It must be very serious if it leads to permanent disability.
We’re not talking about discomfort or poor sleep. We are talking about a decline that could be very serious. Like any disease, if we look for warning signs and catch it in time, it can be resolved.
With this type of work it is very likely that at the end of the day, the stress that was there during the work day will continue. And when it is time to sleep, there is difficulty in sleeping and we wake up thinking about work. This means we are tired the next morning and perform less at work. So, instead of being aware that short breaks will help you perform better, you try to perform at your maximum; And underestimating short breaks will increase stress. So we go into a loop. When the day ends, we will be in a state of stress due to which we will not be able to sleep well and the next day we will start work tired.
What can be done?
What you should not do is take anxiolytic medications that have not been prescribed and stimulant medications should be taken with caution. In some cases of Sisyphemia we have seen the consumption of generalized stimulants such as alcohol. Moreover, after the pandemic, digital disconnection does not exist. We should stop this, because these are the types of people that companies or bosses abuse the most. They target them because they are the workers everyone would want to hire.
Along with mental health problems, pill use has also become common.
Statistics show that things are not going well. 15% of all discharge procedures are due to mental health problems, in most cases due to anxiety and depression. Furthermore, 20% of cases of permanent disability are due to mental health problems or other pathologies that accompany these types of problems. In 2023, the Spanish Medicines Agency said that consumption of Valium had increased by 110% over the past five years, putting Spain at the top of the world’s countries with the highest consumption. 111 million containers of anxiolytics and antidepressants were dispensed, which is equivalent to each of us consuming three containers. I would say we have gone from the Spain of tapas to the Spain of pastilleo.
Would you prescribe more snacks instead of pills?
There is a book titled More Plato and Less Prozac, in which we warned about the situation that was occurring and how we were treating existential problems as a mental process that depended only on the consumption of pills instead of resorting to philosophy or psychotherapy. I would recommend a good movie and physical exercise, which besides burning fat, also reduces anxiety.
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