Working Long Hours Doubles Depression Risk, Study Says

Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and at University College in London followed 2,123 middle-aged government workers in Britain for six years and found a link between working overtime and major depressive episodes.

Working long hours can increase a person’s risk of becoming depressed, regardless of how stressful the work being done is, according to a new study published in PloS ONE.

Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and at University College in London followed 2,123 middle-aged government workers in Britain for six years and found a link between working overtime and major depressive episodes.

Workers who put in an average of at least 11 hours per day at the office had approximately two and a half times higher odds of developing depression than their colleagues who worked seven or eight hours.

The link between long workdays and depression persisted even after the researchers took into account factors such as job strain, the level of support in the workplace, alcohol use, smoking, and chronic physical diseases.

Researchers noted that some positive work characteristics, such as high control or high rewards at work, may buffer an employee against the adverse health effects of long working hours. On the other hand, working long hours may also mean higher exposure to adverse working conditions.

Since civil servants are white collar workers, it remains to be investigated whether the findings apply to blue-collar workers and employees in the private sector, the authors said.

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    April 2021

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