Workaholics ‘more likely to suffer from ADHD, OCD and depression’

    26 May 2016

    Spending long hours at work may raise your risk of suffering from ADHD, OCD, depression and anxiety, according to research carried out at the University of Bergen in Norway.

    The researchers say that eight per cent of the population are ‘workaholics’. To define the term they asked study participants if they are likely to try to free up more time for work, spend longer at work than they intend to, and work to assuage feelings of guilt or anxiety.

    The study, which has been published in the open-access journal PLOS One, looked at 16,426 employees. The researchers found that workaholics are 20 per cent more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, 26 per cent more likely to have obsessive compulsive disorder and 6.3 per cent more likely to have depression.

    Dr Cecilie Schou Andreassen, who worked on the study, said: ‘Workaholics scored higher on all the psychiatric symptoms than non-workaholics.

    ‘Taking work to the extreme may be a sign of deeper psychological or emotional issues. Whether this reflects overlapping genetic vulnerabilities, disorders leading to workaholism or, conversely, workaholism causing such disorders, remains uncertain.

    ‘In the wait for more research, physicians should not take for granted that a seemingly successful workaholic does not have ADHD-related or other clinical features. Their considerations affect both the identification and treatment of these disorders.’

    Instant analysis
    There is a correlation vs causation issue here. Many of the qualities displayed by workaholics are very similar to symptoms of anxiety and obsessive behaviour. The question is, are people suffering mental illness because they are working too hard, or are their work behaviours a reflection of other underlying problems?

    There is a wide spectrum of what ‘working too hard’ can represent; and there is an enormous difference between having, for example, some obsessive personality traits and actually having OCD.
    Research score: 2/5