Are your work habits connected to other troubling behaviors?
Workaholics beware. Your habit may be affecting more than just your work-life balance. In fact, a recent study examined the relationship between workaholism and some mental health issues and found some interesting correlations.
The research, conducted at the University of Bergen in Norway, used an online cross-sectional survey of more than 16,000 people ages 16 to 75 to assess workaholism and symptoms of psychiatric disorders.
Someone with work addiction was defined by the researchers as “being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation and investing so much time and effort to work that it impairs other important life areas.”
The Bergen Work Addiction Scale was created specifically for the study combining the criteria used for general addictions with seven factors related to work—salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, relapse and problems.
“People often work hard in order to get promotions or raises, in addition to feeling good about the work they are producing,” says Dr. Kevin Krippner, a clinical psychologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Then the person continues to do the behavior, in order to get the positive outcome, even though other negative things may also be occurring as a result of the initial behavior, such as compromising their personal life.”
Of those surveyed, the researchers found that 7.8 percent of could be classified as workaholics. Among those workaholics, 32.7 percent met criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Interestingly, ADHD is often associated with children and teens, and adults are often overlooked. The study provides some of the first extensive research on the disorder in adults.
The study also found that among workaholics, 25.6 percent met clinical levels for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In addition, when participants were screened for anxiety and depression, and the researchers found that 33.8 percent of workaholics suffer from anxiety and 8.9 percent met criteria for depression.
In the current environment, where the line between work and home are often blurred due to the ease of access with smartphones and laptops, this research is particularly noteworthy.
“The trend in allowing people to work from home has been very attractive to employers and people who want to work from home, as there are many benefits. But there can be some negative consequences too, such as workaholism or employers taking advantage of workers who are willing to be available to the company 24 hours a day,” adds Dr. Krippner.
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