Heart palpitations, headaches and insomnia are becoming “badges of honour” for stressed-out finance workers keen to show their commitment to the job.

Those at the core of fast-paced, competitive life in Canary Wharf and the City are said to be scared of showing any physical signs of struggling with their workload.

Nearly 70% admit to ignoring illness because of professional commitments.

This means they ignore potentially serious health issues because they believe them to be “normal and acceptable” – as well as signs of career dedication.

Cognitive behavioural psychotherapist Simon Simpson, at 120 Old Broad Street, London Bridge Hospital says the situation is “bizarre”.

But took his understanding from a client who had described his City office as role a “gladiatorial arena”.

“He felt he was constantly battling to beat his colleagues, and for me this really summed up the combative and adversarial environment he worked in day after day,” said Mr Simpson.

“No wonder he was suffering from panic attacks and depression when I saw him; his body was literally reacting as if he was fighting for his life every day.”

His comments come following a study commissioned by London Bridge Hospital which shows 89% of City workers feel their health issues are made worse by work.

It also shone the spotlight on 68% of a 250-strong City worker sample who admitted ignoring health problems because of work commitments.

Mr Simpson said: “There is still a particularly aggressive and macho atmosphere in parts of the finance industry, with unrealistic demands, impossible targets and little sympathy for people who cannot cope.

“Canary Wharf is home to many of the world’s leading banks and financial institutions, and as such attracts the brightest, hardest working people from all around the world.

“Knowing that there is always someone ready to usurp your position if you can’t take the pressure, means that for many people a fear of failure becomes the dominant force in their life.”

Assertiveness and learning to say no are two key skills which could help reduce workload.

They could also prove effective in gaining respect from colleagues as well as securing control.

“Being strong is not just about working longer and harder than anyone else, being strong is also about resisting pressure in a calm, assertive and respectful way,” he said.

“I hope people learn to do this before they crash and burn rather than afterwards”

Key findings

  • 68% of the sample stated they actively ignore health problems as a result of work demands
  • 48% of City workers are limited in their day-to-day activities because of a health problem which has lasted or is expected to last at least a year and when asked if this had been exacerbated by work 89% believed that it had been.
  • 39% of bankers reported that they would like to see physiotherapy services provided in the City of London, 31% want to see cardiac services and a 24% see a personal need for psychological services.
  • 42% of the sample have taken time off work due to stress related illnesses, with 82% reporting that their job has caused them stress some or all of the time.

Advice for Wharfers from counsellor Owen Redahan, based in West India Quay.

Owen Redahan said: “Wharfers are better at looking after their physical health. The availability of gyms and great jogging areas makes it easier to keep fit.

“ But when it comes to mental health Wharfers are really no better than City workers.

“Feeling stressed is a sort of badge of honour – almost proof that they’re working hard.

“And the culture of late night socialising, drinking, occasionally drug taking and compulsive porn really doesn’t help and are just temporary fixes.

“I’d suggest pop in and see a therapist – it’s a more effective stress reducer than having a pint”