07/04/2008

Working Overtime Can Lead to Anxiety, Depression

A new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and
Environmental Medicine suggests that employees who work overtime face an
increased risk of anxiety and depression.

Elisabeth Kleppa and colleagues at the University of Bergen in Norway analyzed
data on work hours from a larger study of Norwegian men and women. The
researchers used a standard screening questionnaire to assess symptoms of
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
40 hours or less.

While previous studies have raised possible health and safety concerns of
working long hours, most have focused on the health effects of shift work
rather than overtime. This new research shows that working overtime is
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 11 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
long hours also had higher rates of heavy manual labor and shift work and lower
levels of work skills and education. The authors added, however, that even
those who work moderate overtime hours face an increased risk of "mental
distress."

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


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AplusA-online.de - Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine