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Moonlighting risk to brain, heart, doctors warn

Broadly, moonlighting is working for a business of the same niche while being a permanent employee of another. Read More

Friday April 7, 2023 6:08 PM, IANS

Moonlighting risk to brain, heart, doctors warn

Hyderabad: The word 'Moonlighting' has been used and heard across India a lot in recent months.

What is moonlighting

Broadly, moonlighting is working for a business of the same niche while being a permanent employee of another. Post the Covid pandemic, the practice gained momentum due to remote working and reduced job security.

Many multinational companies have passed policy diktats over this issue, and quite a few people have possibly lost their jobs in the process. While the jury is out to decide whether moonlighting is ethically and morally right, what was not spoken much was its side-effects.

'A word of caution'

Doctors from Hyderabad, who have treated many patients who suffered brain and heart-related ailments due to moonlighting, have a word of caution.

Hyderabad, a key IT and ITes destination in the country, is home to millions of technology professionals. There would be thousands of professionals who might be working for more than one company, and this trend would have only multiplied since the start of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, and work from home became the new normal. However, hospitals in Hyderabad have now started receiving more and more patients with complaints and ailments which are believed to be the side-effects of moonlighting.

"We are a rehabilitation facility where we help patients who have suffered a brain stroke or heart attack or underwent some surgical procedure to recover. Over the past six months, we have received patients from various hospitals in the city who needed recovery after suffering a brain stroke or heart attack," said Vijay Bathina, Director and Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, at Uchchvas Transitionalcare.

"The most common factor is that they were all IT professionals, they all were doing more than one job, they all worked for more than 60 hours a week, and were working late into the night. These three common factors indicate that moonlighting, which is a growing phenomenon among the new generation professionals, has started impacting their health."

More impacts

Bathina exaplined that working for more than 60 hours a week will have an adverse impact on the health of a person and will also reduce the quality of work.

"It is important that professionals understand the fact that every individual has limitations to his/her physical ability. Adding more work hours will result in sleep deprivation, which will result in mental health complications like increased stress and decrease in cognitive performance. Hence, it is very important that professionals understand how much physical and mental strain they can take. Else, the body could give up suddenly, causing severe health complications," he added.

Highlighting certain key reasons, Manoj Vasireddy, neurologist at Amor Hospitals, said:

"When a human body is put under stress, it releases cortisol and adrenaline hormones, which further lead to anxiety and depression. And these two are the major causes for mental health disorders. Sustained anxiety or depression is likely to cause high blood pressure which will have a direct impact on the heart.

"It is very important that IT professionals who sit in front of a computer for long hours know how to balance their life with work. The more an individual works, the more she/he needs rest to recover and rejuvenate from day to day stress. Professionals working for long hours must also do some exercise to stay both physically and mentally fit."

Shivaram Rao Komandla, consultant neurophysician, Yashoda Hospitals, said:

"Working for long hours or engaging in physically or mentally demanding work can lead to chronic stress, which can contribute to a range of health issues, including neurological problems. Chronic stress has been linked to changes in the brain that can increase the risk of developing anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.

"It can also cause physical changes in the brain, such as reduced volume in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making, planning, and impulse control. Also, chronic stress can contribute to the development of hypertension, which is a major risk factor for stroke. It's important to prioritise self-care and manage stress when doing multiple jobs. This can include taking breaks, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in stress-reducing activities such as exercise or meditation."



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