Employees who work overtime are more likely to exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression, suggests a study in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
For the study, Elisabeth Kleppa and colleagues of the University of Bergen (Norway) analyzed data on work hours from a larger study of Norwegian men and women and assessed symptoms of anxiety and depression using a standard screening questionnaire. The researchers then compared the results for workers who worked normal hours (40 or fewer hours per week) with those for workers who worked overtime (41 to 100 hours per week)..
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 eleven 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 very long hours also had higher rates of heavy manual labor and shift work and lower levels of work skills and education.
The study didn't specifically address how working long hours leads to increased anxiety and depression. It could be that working overtime leads to increased "wear and tear," or that individuals with characteristics predisposing to anxiety and depression are more likely to take jobs requiring long work hours, the researchers note.