Uptick in farmer stress and depression

Harvest time brings added stress for farmers and a family physician who treats many of them says it’s important for them to take breaks.

Dr. David Schwartz, in Waukon, Iowa, says with weather and other pressures during harvest, farmers tend to go full steam ahead and the physical and mental stress can take a toll. Schwartz says stress can lead to fatigue, increasing the risk for accidental injuries and more.

“They’re also at increased risk for depression which we see quite a bit in farmers,” says Schwartz, “But, farmers being farmers are notoriously ‘tougher than that.’  So, they don’t want to get help for things like that. But this is the time of year when the stress hits its peak and we do see a lot of problems with depression coming through.”

Schwartz tells Brownfield Ag News their clinic has seen more cases of depression among farmers this year – adding that the ongoing drought has been a factor. He says, “Any time the finances are hit hard, the worries go up from financial issues, we see an increase in depression.”

Schwartz says family physicians are equipped to treat depression.  Sometimes, he says, just taking walks or taking time out for other enjoyable activities can help farmers reduce their stress levels. The clinic where Schwartz practices is part of the Mayo Health System.

AUDIO: Dr. David Schwartz (16:00 mp3)

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