Do you work longer than 40 hours a week? If so, your schedule could be putting you at risk for depression.
Researchers from University College London and Oregon State University recently conducted a study, published in the British Medical Journal, to explore how long work hours can affect mental health.
To do so, they examined more than 23,000 adults working one of three schedules: fewer than 35 hours weekly, 41 to 55 hours weekly and 55 or more hours weekly. The scientists included other factors, including age, marital status, job type, job control, salary and health conditions.
They measured depressive symptoms, which can include anxiety, mood swings, loss of interest and sadness, using the General Health Questionnaire, a common survey used to identify minor psychiatric disorders.
Overall, they found older workers, smokers, those who earned the least and those who had the least job control were more depressed.
After further analysis, they noticed distinct gender differences. Men typically worked longer hours than women, more women worked full-time jobs than men, and married women who were parents did not work as much as married men with children.
While there was no difference in the number of depressive symptoms between men who worked more hours and men who worked fewer hours, that was not the case for women.
Women who worked 55 or more hours a week and/or worked weekends had significantly more depressive symptoms than women who worked the standard 40 hours.
The team also noted women who worked longer hours were often in male-dominated fields, and women who worked weekends often had low-paying jobs.
“Such jobs, when combined with frequent or complex interactions with the public or clients, have been linked to higher levels of depression,” the authors said.
Furthermore, they said women who worked long hours also have domestic labor to tend to, which might contribute to the depressive symptoms.
“Previous studies have found that once unpaid housework and caring is accounted for, women work longer than men, on average, and that this has been linked to poorer physical health,” the team concluded.