Too much work can lead to this, especially for women
Are you staying late at work regularly trying to catch up? Putting in extra hours may get those boxes checked on your to-do list, but the added hours could be taking a toll on your mental health.
A report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that women who work 55 hours a week or more experienced more symptoms of depression compared to women who work a standard 35 to 40 hours, as well as compared to their male counterparts.
Plugging in on the weekends has its effects, too. The report found that working weekends led to “more depressive symptoms for both men and women.”
Dr. Lisa Wochos, a psychiatrist at the Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Port Washington, Wis., says that “taking steps to combat symptoms of depression caused by working long hours is essential to restore mental health and protect your well-being.”
Dr. Wochos recommends addressing symptoms of depression by taking at least 10 to 15 minutes a day of “me time.” Other helpful tactics she suggests include meditating, listening to music, exercising, calling a friend, watching a funny movie, spending time with family/friends and engaging in a hobby of choice.
And when it comes to self-care during the workday, she suggests incorporating anything you find relaxing such as taking mini breaks during the day to stretch, listening to music, taking a very short walk or texting a friend.
Depression may be a difficult topic to bring up to your manager, but Dr. Wochos recommends talking with your supervisor if you’re experiencing depression symptoms.
“You don’t have to go into detail, but it’s important to make them aware so you can come to a solution on how to alleviate the cause(s). A good way to approach the conversation of work-induced depression is to brainstorm potential solutions to lighten the work load, shorten the day and/or ‘work smarter, not harder.’”
With nearly one in five U.S. adults living with mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it’s important to be self-aware and to encourage someone close to you to keep a watchful eye on your mental health by letting you know if you seem different.
To take your own mental health pulse, a few good questions Dr. Wochos suggests asking yourself are:
- Am I satisfied with my work life? Personal life?
- Do I feel I have a good work-life balance?
- Am I taking care of myself? Eating okay? Sleeping okay?
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.