*Reprinted from Working Mother*

Stress. Now *there’s* a condition we’re all too familiar with. More than a third of American employees are chronically stressed about work, according to a recent study from the American Psychological Association. And another study out of Penn State indicates that women are even more stressed at home than at work.

In addition to making us feel personally awful, stress is incredibly damaging and expensive for the workplace overall: Stress-related absenteeism, lost productivity, legal and insurance fees, and employee turnover cost U.S. companies more than $300 billion per year. *Working Mother* has long worked to promote family-friendly workplace policies that experts agree can help ease working parents’ anxieties, but many businesses just aren’t there yet. Meanwhile, here’s what stress may be costing you—in dollars and more—and ways you can lower your bill.

Studies indicate that stress is responsible in some way for a whopping 70 to 90 percent of doctor visits, either directly or by aggravating an ongoing medical condition, says stress management expert Cynthia Ackrill, MD. Why? Stress and the hormones it causes the body to produce can set off a cascade of inflammation and decreased immune function.

All that translates into doctor’s office co-pays plus test and prescription costs, notes Dr. Ackrill, chair of the Workplace Stress Board for the American Institute of Stress (AIS).

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