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Overtime Work Linked to Anxiety and Depression

A recent study suggests employees who work overtime are at increased risk of anxiety and depression.

Elisabeth Kleppa and colleagues of the University of Bergen, Norway, analyzed data on work hours from a larger study of Norwegian men and women.

Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed using a standard screening questionnaire. Anxiety and depression scores were compared for 1,350 workers who worked overtime, 41 to 100 hours per week; and approximately 9,000 workers who worked normal hours, 40 hours or less.

Working overtime was associated with higher anxiety and depression scores among both men and women. The rate of questionnaire scores indicating “possible” depression increased from about nine percent for men with normal work hours to 12.5 percent for those who worked overtime.

For women, the rate of possible depression increased from seven to eleven percent. In both sexes, rates of possible anxiety and depression were higher among workers with lower incomes and for less-skilled workers.

The relationship between overtime and anxiety/depression was strongest among men who worked the most overtime — 49 to 100 hours per week. Men working such very long hours also had higher rates of heavy manual labor and shift work and lower levels of work skills and education.

Previous studies have raised possible health and safety concerns of working long hours. However, most studies of this issue have focused on the health effects of shift work, rather than overtime. Under European Union work rules, employees have the right to refuse to work more than 48 hours per week.

The new results support this directive by showing increased rates of anxiety and depression among overtime workers. Men working more than 48 hours per week are at highest risk, although the authors note that working even moderate overtime hours seems to increase the risk of “mental distress.”

The study permits no conclusions about how working long hours leads to increased anxiety and depression. It could be that working overtime leads to increased “wear and tear,” or that individuals with characteristics predisposing to anxiety and depression (such as low education and job skills) are more likely to take jobs requiring long work hours.

The study is published in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Source: American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM)

Overtime Work Linked to Anxiety and Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Overtime Work Linked to Anxiety and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 11, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/06/16/overtime-work-linked-to-anxiety-and-depression/2467.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.