Working Long Hours Raises Risk for Depression
If you're already working 11-hour days, this new research may not come as a shock to you — working long hours can double your risk for depression.
Especially in this economy, many workers feel pressured to put in more hours in order to keep their current job and income. Researchers in London found that civil servants who were forced to work 11 hours a day or more had double the risk of a major depressive episode than civil servants who worked 8-hour days. After studying about 2000 middle-aged British civil servants, researchers found a strong link between longer hours and depression, even after controlling for other factors such as socio-demographics, chronic disease, lifestyle, job strain, and other factors. The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Researchers suggested that working longer hours may contribute to a greater risk of depression because of a variety of factors (WebMD). Most obviously, prolonged stress can contribute to an increased likelihood of depression. Working longer hours can reduce the amount of time available for relaxing activities, as well as reduce the time available for sleeping. Longer work hours can also damage relationships with family and friends, which can contribute to increased stress and trigger depressive moods. People who work more may have less time to exercise and to prepare nutritious meals, both important activities for reducing stress and reducing the risk of depression.
Some warning signs that you may be becoming depressed include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling stressed
- Feeling irritable and restless
- Inability to enjoy things that used to give you pleasure, such as time spent with friends
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Significant weight loss or gain
Researchers warned workers that it is important to have periods of rest and relaxation to keep depression at bay. If cutting work hours is not an option, the researchers suggested making a clear distinction between work time and leisure time, and being sure to take all of your vacation days.
Investing in your self-care, such as getting regular exercise, eating healthfully, and getting enough sleep, are also important factors that can reduce the likelihood of depression. Experts also suggested reducing technological ties to work after work hours, such as turning off your cell phone and avoiding checking your work email, to reduce stress at home after work.