Depressed? You may be Working too Much


By Greg Pippert, M.D.

If you have been clocking long hours at the office and can’t seem to shake the blues, your dedication to your job may have a lot to do with it.

A study published in the January 2012 issue of PLoS One, performed by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health uncovered a link between longer work hours and an increased risk of depression.

The study followed more than 2000 male and female British Civil Service workers between the ages of 35 and 55 for an average of 5.8 years. All of the participants were healthy and reported no symptoms of depression at the start of the study.  Each was asked to record their current work hours and continue to track their work hours throughout the study.

At the conclusion of the survey period, the workers were screened once again. The previously healthy participants who worked 11 or more hours per day at the beginning of the study were almost 2.5 times more likely to have a diagnosis of clinical depression than those who worked normal hours.

Although excessive work may be the central issue, it is the compilation of events that result from too many hours at the office that contribute to depression. Spending more time at work often creates stressors at home. Many individuals get less exercise, less sleep and consume a poor diet when clocking extra hours at the office.  Even fewer of these individuals take the time to relax and simply enjoy themselves. There is a classic guilt associated guilty with working or not working such long hours – sacrificing time with family and friends, on the one hand, but financial necessity and the drive to provide, on the other hand.

This makes a good case for balance. It is important to find balance in all things. Work, play, joy, sadness, hunger, satiety and, yes, your hormones too.


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