The researchers said their findings needed to be considered in the context of working life, where greater demands placed on employees as well as factors such as people not having as many close personal relationships and supportive networks, such as extended families.
Simon Lawton Smith, of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "It's worrying that even relatively mild symptoms of stress appear to lead to long-term disability and to an increase in people receiving disability benefits.
"The answer has to be to identify people under stress before they reach a crisis point, and quickly provide them with the support they need to manage their lives, whether it's at home or at work."
Do you know what gets me stressed? People telling me what to do, what to eat, what to drink, how to keep warm, how not to drive and now if some busybody comes along and suggests I need to be friendly and develop a supportive network, which I presume is girly talk for incontinently emoting all over people, then I'm going to get so bloody stressed I may explode.
UPDATE - I see help is at hand:
Feeling lonely? Have a bacon sandwich and ice-cream - Scotsman.com News COMFORT foods, such as sausages and mash, bacon sandwiches and ice-cream, really are good for you, scientists now believe. Writing in the journal Psychological Science, co-author Jordan Troisi said: "Everyone experiences stress, often associated with their connections to others. It seems comfort food is a sort of ready-made easy resource for remedying a sense of loneliness."
Bacon sarnies on the NHS - that's what I want, cheaper and far more effective than some shrink.