January 29, 2012

Working Overtime is a Thrill Kill

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Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Depression risks double working 11 or more hours a day

(dailyRx News) Those who work 11+ hours each day are over twice as likely to have an episode of major depression, research suggests.

Marianna Virtanen, M.D., lead investigator on the study, explains, “Although occasionally working overtime may have benefits for the individual and society, it is important to recognize that working excessive hours is also associated with an increased risk of major depression.”

"Find a healthy work-life balance."

A researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Dr. Virtanen took part in two studies involving over 10,000 working individuals in the U.K. The first study analyzed psychological dysfunction and major depressive disorder symptoms while the second followed-up to find out what had happened with their mental health in the 5-7 years in between.

In their analysis of individuals without psychiatric discomfort to start, the researchers found their risk of having a major depressive episode was 2.43 times higher in those working 11 or more hours a day in comparison to those who had 7-8 hour shifts.

The investigators note that even controlling for alcohol use, tobacco use, chronic physical disease, and work-related social support only marginally affected the results.

Dr. Virtanen suggests, “Warning signs for depression are important to notice: for example, feelings of stress, sleep disturbances, irritation, and dissatisfaction or decrease in pleasure.”

In a time where the World Health Organization predicts depression to be the number one influence on disease burden by 2030, this study suggests employers and employees alike need to prioritize mental health.

dailyRx asks Dr. Virtanen for her feedback for those working long hours. “First, it would be important to have periods with less pressure at work and shorter hours,” she explains. “In many workplaces it is actually a matter of work organization, too.”

She further recommends that people draw a line between work and play. Dr. Virtanen believes it’s important to focus on your general health and overall wellbeing, “especially sleep and exercise.” Additionally, make sure to take holiday leave!
 

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
January 26, 2012

Last Updated:
January 29, 2012