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Family Files

Farmers Can Feel the Stress

harvest scene

Since most of the farmers in my area are deep into harvest season, I thought it might be a good time to touch on the topic of farm or agricultural stress. Those in the agricultural industry can face unique pressures, many of which are beyond their control. Some of these include:


  • Break down of machinery
  • Bad weather
  • Commodity/livestock prices
  • Long shifts/hours
  • Work-related injuries
  • Farm policy changes
  • Chemical exposure
  • Overall financial concerns related to the operation of farm and home


Add to this list some of the stressors that many of us face like family relationship issues, physical and mental health concerns, and community/societal worries – and it is no wonder that the National Safety Council ranked agriculture as one of the top two most hazardous occupations.


High stress situations and chronic ongoing stress can take a huge toll on a person’s physical and mental health. It can many times lead to depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts or action. According to a fact sheet published by North Dakota State University Extension Service, some of those symptoms of stress include:


  • Physical symptoms - muscle aches, frequent headaches, shallow breathing, low energy, frequent upset stomach and fatigue
  • Behavioral symptoms - difficulty sleeping, irritability and easy to anger, inability to concentrate or focus, difficulty making decisions and increased use of alcohol/drugs
  • Emotional symptoms – feelings of anxiety, panic, frustration, impatience, restlessness, isolation, hopelessness and discouragement 
  • Relationship symptoms – communication difficulties and maybe even conflict with family members and friends, strained interactions, avoidance of others and verbal or physical outbreaks


Sometimes people aren’t aware of these warning signs, some ignore them, and some have become so accustomed to them that they don’t realize the danger they are in. Others may be concerned about the stigma that seems to accompany issues with mental health.  


So hopefully, farmers, ranchers and others with agricultural occupations (and their families) will see this article or other messages and materials out in the public and take a moment to assess how they are feeling and get help if needed. Visiting a healthcare provider would be a great start, but here are some other resources as well:


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline:  1-800-950-6264

Substance Abuse and Mental health Services National Helpline:  1-800-662-4357

The American Institute for Stress:

National Institute of Mental Health: