Toiling away long hours at the office and heading home knowing you'll have to be back at work before you know it can be a depressing thought. A new study by a team of international researchers has proven what many of us already know: regardless of your income or socioeconomic status, working long hours can increase your risk of depression and other related mental illnesses.Photo by Q Family.
The study itself was published in the online peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE and is available for all to read. It deals with a decent sample size — over 2100 men and women, with a mean age of 47 — even if the entire sample were all white-collar civil servants in the UK. The study is a follow-up to the Whitehall II study, which initially looked for a relationship between depression, work hours and socioeconomic status.
When researchers normalised income, they discovered that all employees — even high-wage earners — were at a higher risk for depression (in addition to heart disease and other illnesses) if they spent their entire days and nights working, even if they felt they needed to do that in order to advance in their careers. Additional research is needed, but the findings of this study do back up something many of us know: spending long, waking hours slaving away at a project or stuffed inbox is more saddening and frustrating than it is rewarding.
The major takeaway is that if you don't have the privilege of doing work that you love each day (in which case, work and life are the same thing), you need to learn how to stop working and go home, draw effective boundaries between your work and your life, and engage in other activities that reward you personally, like exercise or hobbies, that can fulfil you outside of work.