This is how working long hours affects your mental health

What does a 24/7 business operation mean for our mental health?  Study findings aim to answer that very question. The results aren’t exactly positive.

Gone are the days of the traditional 9-5.

It may not exactly come as a surprise that work hours are shifting; for some lucky employees, that means four-day work weeks and more flexible schedules. But for another slew of us, the opposite has taken root: We’re working longer hours, and sometimes on weekends, to get the job done.


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That change begs the question: What does a 24/7 business operation mean for our mental health?  Study findings recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health aim to answer that very question. The results aren’t exactly positive.

Researchers in the United Kingdom used data from Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, to see how professionals reacted to having longer work weeks. They found that the problem was at least partially gendered: Women who worked 55 hours or more per week tended to have more depressive symptoms.

More stressful for women

The research report’s authors hypothesized that this could be because of a number of reasons: Women who are working long hours may feel pressure if their schedule goes against social or professional norms, they may be working in male-dominated fields, or they may feel “the potential double-burden experienced by women when their long hours in paid work are added on to their time in domestic labor,” they wrote.

Men do not experience the same increase in depressive symptoms when they have a longer work week, but they do have more symptoms when they work weekends. The same is true for women who work most or all weekends, but not for those who only have to work some weekends.

All in all, it seems it’s not great for our mental health to work the long hours some of us are taking on in a newly globalized business world. Perhaps it’s time to slow down a little; after all, there’s a reason why the five-day, 40-hour work week became the standard.


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Alexandra Villarreal|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at avillarreal@theladders.com.