Workaholics  May Develop Depression, Anxiety and Other Psychiatric Diseases

Are you one of those who take a lot of work stress? Although dedication to your job is a good habit there should be a balance between work and life. If this balance is interrupted, it is possible to experience physical and mental health problems.  A new study from PLoS ONE explains how being a workaholic can increase the risk of developing psychiatric diseases.

Unhealthy work-related stress can cause anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and related conditions.

Cecilie Schou Andreassen from the Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen (UiB) is the lead researcher of this study. According to Cecilie workaholics are highly likely to end up with different psychiatric disorders as compared to nonworkaholics.

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These workaholics can be in any field of work, even independent workers, women, self-employed people, or highly educated managers.

This study is based on the data obtained from 16,426 individuals from the working-class between the ages of 16 and 75 years. All of these participants shared information regarding their work habits, dedication, and symptoms corresponding to certain psychiatric diseases.

Nearly 8% of the people who participated in this survey believed that workaholism is about excessively concerned with one’s work followed by an uncontrollable urge to work and spend all available time and energy to complete the work. This affects all other important things in life such as health, personal space, relationships, etc.

Workaholism or addiction to your work can increase the risk for certain psychiatric diseases. According to the results obtained by this study, 34% of participants met the criteria for anxiety patients, 33% were at high risk of ADHD, 25% for OCD and 9% were likely to have depression.

This risk is nearly four times bigger than the risk of developing mental health problems in nonworkaholics.

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These results open a challenging question; do workaholics with a high risk of psychiatric diseases need medical treatment or balancing the work-personal life can improve their condition? The researchers are not clear but taking excessive work stress can not only affect mental but physical health too. And there is no way to find out if reducing the workload can help it or not. According to the research team, it is similar to the chicken-and-egg case where both factors are related to each other and it is hard to determine which influences which one.

But there are some preventive strategies that can save workaholics from developing complications. For example, they can look for jobs or work sector which require activities which meet their interest. Instead of accepting any job which is available to them, they can search for a job which suits them best.

There is no permanent treatment for most of these psychiatric problems but it is possible to manage them. So pushing people into the jobs or careers which add up to their stress is not a wise idea. More studies are needed to understand how to lower stress levels associated with psychiatric illnesses and which treatment plan will work best for workaholics.


Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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