Working long hours increases depression risk in women

Working long hours increases depression risk in women

By Monica Beyer 

Fact checked by Jasmin Collier

Women who clock 55 working
hours or more every week might have a higher risk of depression. Also, working
weekends can increase depression risk for both men and women.
A new study that now appears
in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that working
excessively long days could be detrimental to mental health.
The team came to this
conclusion by looking at data collected from Understanding Society, the United
Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS).
The UKHLS tracks the health of
around 40,000 households in the U.K.
For this particular study, the
researchers used data from over 23,000 men and women. These data included
information about employment.
They discovered that the
people with the worst mental health overall were women who worked 55 hours or
more, worked most or every weekend, or both. The difference was significant
when compared with women who work standard hours (35–40 per week).
Mental health and work habits

The team found a number of
employment differences between genders. Men, in general, tended to work longer
hours than their female peers. Also, almost half of the women worked part-time,
while only 15 percent of men did.
Also, married men were more
likely to work longer hours, while married women usually worked fewer.
The scientists had a number of
theories on why there were differences between men and women in the workplace.
They note that women are more likely to work long hours if they work in a
male-dominated field. Also, they saw that people who work weekends tended to
work in service sector jobs with lower pay.
As the study authors write,
“Such jobs, when combined with frequent or complex interactions with the
public or clients, have been linked to higher levels of depression.”
They recognize that women
often have a “potential double burden” when factoring in household
duties and caring for family members. This type of work is unpaid and increases
their workload across the board.
However, there were a few
factors that seemed to affect mental health no matter what the person’s gender
was. Older workers, workers who smoke, those who earned the least, and those
who had the least control at their jobs tended to be more depressed when
compared with other workers who did not have these specific circumstances.
Clinical depression is one of
the most common mental health conditions. It has several risk factors, which
can include a family history of depression, major life changes, trauma, stress,
and certain physical illnesses. The symptoms of depression may include persistent
sadness, feelings of hopelessness and guilt, loss of interest in hobbies, and
sleeping issues.
Work-related stress

It is no surprise, then, that
those who work long hours or over the weekend may experience some work-related
stress, which could be a trigger for depression. The authors write:
“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
They explain that their findings
do not establish cause, but that they may encourage employers to consider new
policies that aim to decrease the burden on women in the workforce without
decreasing their participation in the job sector.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.