If your life seems to revolve around your job, so much so that your relationships and social life suffer, then you’re likely to fall under the definition of a “workaholic.” It is no surprise that workaholism can induce stress, but a new study suggests that it may also be associated with psychiatric disorders.
Published in the journal PLOS One, the study found that workaholics were more likely to have anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than non-workaholics.
According to the study authors – including Cecilie Schou Andreassen of the Department of Psychological Science at the University of Bergen, Norway – workaholism has been defined as “being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation, and to investing so much time and effort to work that it impairs other important life areas.”
With an increasing amount of Americans facing longer working hours and increasing job demands, workaholism is believed to be a common occurrence, with some studies estimating that it affects around 10 percent of the U.S. workforce.
Andreassen and colleagues note that previous studies have suggested a link between workaholism and psychiatric disorders; they set out to gain a better understanding of this association.
The Bergen Work Addiction Scale
The team analyzed data of 16,426 working adults of a median age of 37 years.
The researchers used the Bergen Work Addiction Scale to identify workaholism among the subjects, which involved participants rating how often the following statements applied to them in the past year:
- You think about ways to free up more time for work
- You spend significantly more time working than originally planned
- You work to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, or depression
- Others have told you to work less but you don’t listen to them
- You become stressed if you are prevented from working
- Work is prioritized before hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise
- You work to the extent that it negatively impacts your health.
Participants rated each statement on a scale of 1 (never) to 5 (always). They were deemed a workaholic If they scored “often” or “always” on four or more statements, and this occurred for 7.8 percent of participants.