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Working for longer increases anxiety, depression risk

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Workaholics are more vulnerable to having psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression than other people, warn researchers.

The study suggests that taking work to the extreme may be a sign of deeper psychological or emotional issues.

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The findings showed that workaholics are at greater risk of anxiety, depression and disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), — a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness — obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — excessive thoughts that lead to repetitive behaviours.

“Workaholics scored higher on all the psychiatric symptoms than non-workaholics,” said Cecilie Schou Andreassen, researcher and clinical psychologist specialistat the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway.

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Among the study participants, 32.7% workaholics met criteria for ADHD in contrast to 12.7% non-workaholics.

While 25.6% workaholics fulfilled the criteria for OCD, only 8.7% among non-workaholics were found at risk.

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Anxiety was seen in 33.8% workaholics and 11.9% in non-workaholics. 8.9% people met criteria for depression among workaholics and only 2.6% among non-workaholics.

“Whether this reflects overlapping genetic vulnerabilities, disorders leading to workaholism or, conversely, workaholism causing such disorders, remain uncertain,” Andreassen explained

For the study, published in the journal PLOS One, the team examined the associations between workaholism and psychiatric disorders among 16,426 working adults.

The results clearly highlight the importance of further investigating neurobiological deviations related to workaholic behaviour, the researchers concluded.

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