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Do Workaholics Have Underlying Psychiatric Problems?

An individual is said to be a workaholic when he or she gives more priority to work than is required. Such individuals are driven by exaggerated motivation to work continuously for long periods of time without resting. This tends to cause a lot of conflict in the personal life of the individual where he or she is not able to give much time at home. As the world has evolved and workload has increased, the amount of research that was done on this topic has significantly increased, especially over the last 10-20 years[1].

The researchers unanimously were concerned about what can be the side effects of workaholism. They were of the opinion that to prevent this habit from developing factors that trigger off workaholism need to identified and addressed. This became especially important as more novel gadgets like laptops and tablets came into existence which reduced the distance between home and office[1].

Workaholics tend to spend countless hours on their laptops and office work to such an extent that it starts affecting their mind. This article highlights this issue and explains whether workaholics have underlying psychiatric problems[2].

Do Workaholics Have Underlying Psychiatric Problems?

A group of scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway conducted a study on the effects of the excess work on the brain of the human body along with scientists from Nottingham Trent University. They analyzed extensive data of more than 16,000 working people and came to a conclusion that there was indeed a relationship between workaholism and mental disorders[2].

In the study, they found that approximately 33% of workaholics met the criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as compared to about 12% in general population. They also found out that around 25% of people met the criteria for obsessive compulsive disorder and 34% people had anxiety[2].

Whether overworking was responsible for people having psychiatric problems or an underlying mental condition was responsible for people overworking is something that is debatable but there is definitely a link between psychiatric disorders and overworking. One possibility was that people with ADHD take more time to complete tasks which may make them work for longer hours[2].

In some cases, just for a raise or a promotion people tend to spend long hours at work and if they do not get the expected result it may lead to anxiety and depression. All of this however is just presumptions and no concrete evidence has been found to link it[2].

The study for workaholics and its effect on the brain is still in the initial phases and more research and studies need to be conducted. However, whatever research that has been done clearly indicate some connection between overworking and psychiatric problems[2].

Another research suggests that if an individual who overworks does not necessarily mean that he or she is a better performer. In fact, people who have a balanced work life and personal life tend to be more productive than workaholics. Thus those individuals who overwork and take no time to rest are more likely to end up having psychiatric problems and should take time off and have a more balanced work-life balance[2].

It is therefore recommended who feel that they may have crossed the line from working to overworking to spend some time introspecting. They might realize what they have missed in their personal life. Taking some time out from work and spending time with family not only refreshes the mind but also makes the individual a better performer [2].


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 10, 2019

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