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Working longer hours can lead to depression

Working longer hours can lead to depression


A new study on new graduate doctors suggests that people who work more hours at a stressful job have a higher risk of depression.


Do you work long hours, say 70-90 hours a week? And is the job a stressful one? Then, you might be exposed to depression. The more hours a person works on a stressful job each week, the higher their risk of depression. People who work up to 90 hours weekly are three times more exposed to depression symptoms than when they work just 40-45 hours a week.

Men work on average 40.5 hours a week in the US, while women work 36.6 hours a week. That means people who work harder and longer than the average person are more at risk of depression.

The impact of high work hours on your mental health

This discovery comes at a time when the rate of depression is getting ever so high among healthcare providers in the United States. Although the average work hours of regular people is around 40 hours, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education sets an 80-hour limit on healthcare providers' work weeks. That's because health care is a very demanding job, and professionals work round the clock to save and improve the quality of lives. As a result, most new medical graduates work between 65-80 hours a week. However, all those high working hours can take a toll on their mental health.

The study shows that working too hard for more hours every week can severely impact one's mental health and cause depression.

Obviously, there is a need for the accreditation body to reduce the numbers of hours healthcare providers work.

But does this apply to healthcare professionals alone?

Stress: a precursor to depression

In the study, one word that stands out is "stress." It appears that not just any kind of work can lead someone to depression, no matter how long they worked. For example, you might sit at a desk job for 90 hours a week and experience nothing beyond weight gain. But when you spend that same amount of time at a stressful job, your risk of depression can skyrocket.

But we also know that spending too much time working can expose you to many risks due to poor diet, lack of time spent socializing and doing what you love, and inadequate self-care. All of these lifestyle factors influence one's mental health and well-being. So, the same factors apply whether you're a healthcare provider or corporate employee.

This discovery further shows how important it is to take a step back to experience life away from work as frequently as possible. If you've always worked too hard all the time and sometimes experience symptoms of depression, it may be time to take things slowly.

Your mental health matters as much as your finances and career status. If you're currently battling depression, reach out to me let's talk.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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