The study led by Elisabeth Kleppa of the University of Bergen, Norway, has revealed that people working for longer hours are at a greater risk of developing depression and anxiety.
During the study, the researchers analysed the data on work hours from a larger study of Norwegian men and women. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed using a standard screening questionnaire and scores were compared for 1,350 workers who worked overtime, 41 to 100 hours per week; and approximately 9,000 workers who worked normal hours, 40 hours or less.
They found that overtime was associated with higher anxiety and depression scores among both men and women. The scores showed that possible depression increased from about nine percent for men with normal work hours to 12.5 percent for those who worked overtime, while in 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 for 49 to 100 hours per week. Men working more than 48 hours per week are at a higher risk of mental distress.
The study appears in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.