If you are guilty of putting in extra hours at the office, compulsively checking your work email, or allowing your life to constantly revolve around work, you may be more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders like depression, according to a new study.
The recently released study, done by researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway, looked at more than 16,000 working adults in Norway and found that workaholics were significantly more likely to suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.
Researchers found 33 per cent of workaholics — defined as “a person who compulsively works hard and long hours”— met anxiety criteria, compared to 11 per cent of non-workaholics.
Thirty-two per cent of workaholics met the criteria for ADHD, compared to 12 per cent of non-workaholics, and 25 per cent also met OCD criteria, compared to eight per cent of other workers.
“Organizational interventions should aim to prevent and help young adults and managers in how to suppress and inhibit workaholic tendencies and maintain a positive ‘work-life’ balance,” the study suggests.
“This is particularly important in areas with an excessive work climate, as studies have shown that both personal and organizational characteristics — as well as cultural characteristics — are involved when workaholics are ‘made.'”
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Those who participated in the study labelled themselves as workaholics; however, researchers found that overall younger, single, highly educated people from high socioeconomic status were more likely to call themselves workaholics.
It’s also important to note that the study did not look at whether obsessing over work caused these psychiatric symptoms, or the other way around.
“Clearly, more research is warranted to elucidate these important relationships further,” researchers wrote. “More research is needed to examine whether ‘workaholism’ is totally negative for all individuals as it may be that ‘workaholism’ may serve an important structuring function for those with mental health problems and those with social dysfunction.”
Are you a workaholic?
In 2012, Norwegian and British scientists teamed up to build the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, developed using key factors of addiction and diagnostic criteria linked to “workaholism.”
Seven questions were developed, incorporating basic criteria — salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, relapse and problems.
To see how they stack up on the scale, respondents can answer: (1) Never, (2) Rarely (3) Sometimes, (4) Often and (5) Always.
The questions include:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You de-prioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health
If you answered (4) Often or (5) Always at least four of the seven times, the study suggests you are a workaholic.