All Work and no Play Will Get You Down!

If you have got your work life balance wrong and you are spending too much time in the office you are running a higher risk of suffering depression. This is the unsurprising and totally predictable conclusion of the latest psychological study. It is a study out of Great Britain and it followed the mental health fortunes of a large number of government workers.

Feeling Overworked? Working too many Hours Causes Depression

Working too Many Hours Is Depressing?

The numbers go like this, those civil servants who put in more than eleven hours per day were more than twice as likely to suffer depression than their colleagues who left for home after just eight hours. We all knew there was truth in the old adage of dull Jack the workaholic and now we can put a measurement on it. Of course the headline does not give the whole picture.

Work as an Antidepressant?

Previous psychological studies have shown that having a job is better for mental health than being unemployed and people with larger salaries are much less likely to be depressed than those with low incomes and executives who live in the office do so in order to justify the big bucks. However this latest study published online at www.PloS concludes that long hours on an hourly rate counteracts the compensation of money.

Socioeconomic Status vs. Social Supports?

It seems that a high level of socioeconomic status achieved through long hours spent in the work arena, is no substitute hours spent in the social arena of home, family and friends. All participants in the study were white-collar employees of various government departments. This is a thin slice of Great Britain’s working life and the profile is largely male, most married or in a long-term relationship and likely to be drinking more alcohol than is recommended. So they sound like a pretty unhappy bunch to begin with. A stereotype picture that is best understood by Americans as the Don Draper character from the ‘Mad Men’ TV series.

The link between extraordinary office hours and depression was not obvious until the researchers adjusted the data to compensate for income differentials. This is a normal technique in science to isolate a causal factor from other variables that can hide the effects of particular factors. Clearly money can to some extent alleviate the tendency towards depression so it was important to focus on the hours to emotional state relationship.

Overworked and Depressed?

Too long at work also has an impact on other aspects of health and not just mental health. For instance it increases the chances of having a heart attack. It also causes a drop in mental ability. We definitely function less well at all kinds of daily tasks. These are conclusions from earlier work studies also among British civil servants.

[box type=”important”]The message is consistent and clear that balance between work and home life is well worth paying for in terms of reduced hourly pay. It also worth noting that the social groups most prone to depression are not workers but rather women, people in minorities, the unemployed and even those who do not have sufficient health insurance.[/box]

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

One thought on “All Work and no Play Will Get You Down!

  • February 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Informative post. Balance is the key. In our busy world today, the saying of AJ Materi applies “So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health”


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