Dangerously stressed? Take the test

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OK, we don't actually have a test, but we do have a list of symptoms which might suggest your stress levels are approaching the unmanageable.

People who are unhealthily stressed (and work in the City) tend to be rather good at concealing behavioural symptoms such as irritability, according to Chris Jessop of Nuffield Proactive Health, a provider of 'employee wellness' programmes to the likes of Bank of America and JPMorgan.

On the other hand, Jessop says it's much harder to gloss over the physical symptoms of stressfulness with a veneer of suave professionalism. They include:

· Heart palpitations;

· Skin complaints;

· Hormonal imbalances (namely the disruption of women's menstrual cycles rather than the sudden appearance of moobs);

· Immune system suppression.

By all accounts there are likely to be more blemish-ridden bankers with heart complaints than ever before. The Financial Times says City employees are more stressed than they used to be because banks are trying to squeeze ever-increasing amounts of work out of a similar number of staff. The problem's said to be particularly acute in M&A, where business levels have skyrocketed and staffing levels haven't - partly due to a lack of execution talent.

Philip Hodson, a counsellor who works with investment banking clients, says bankers' angst isn't so much down to excessive amounts of work as levels of commitment: "It isn't so much that you're expected to work more than 100 hours a week, but when there's a particular thing on you're expected to work regardless of food, sleep and family."

As such, Hodson says investment banks have a military-style relationship with their staff, the only difference being that the miltary is more interested in the pastoral care of its soldiers and their families [and bankers are fairly unlikely to be hit by shrapnel during late night M&A negotiations.]

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