Research confirms workaholism frequently co-occurs with psychiatric disorders
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Workaholics are more likely to experience the psychiatric symptoms of ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression according to a recent study of 16,426 working adults.
7.8% of study participants met the criteria for workaholism.
Among workaholics the main findings were:
- 32.7% also met Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) criteria (compared to 12.7% among non-workaholics);
- 25.6% also met Obessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) criteria (compared to 8.7% among non-workaholics);
- 33.8% met anxiety criteria (compared to 11.9% among non-workaholics); and
- 8.9% met depression criteria (compared to 2.6% among non-workaholics).
The study also found that workaholics are more likely to be:
- in managerial roles;
- highly educated;
- higher socio-economic status (SES);
- self-employed; and
- employed in the private sector.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Cecillie Schou Andreassen, of the University of Bergen, said:
Workaholics scored higher on all the psychiatric symptoms than non-workaholics
Dr. Andreassen continued:
physicians should not take for granted that a seemingly successful workaholic does not have ADHD-related or other clinical features. Their considerations affect both the identification and treatment of these disorders.
The study surveyed working adults living in Norway.
Survey included basic demographic questions and the following self-report scales for adult ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression and workaholism:
- Adult ADHD self-report scale (ASRS-Version 1.1);
- Obsession-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R);
- Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); and
- Bergen Work Addiction Scale (BWAS)
While the study identified an association between workaholism and psychiatric symptoms, the study does not explain whether burnout leads to more psychiatric symptoms or vice-versa.
Dr. Andreassen explained:
Taking work to the extreme may be a sign of deeper psychological or emotional issues.
Whether this reflects overlapping genetic vulnerabilities, disorders leading to workaholism or, conversely, workaholism causing such disorders, remain uncertain.
Assess yourself for workaholism using the Bergen Work Addiction Scale .
The study was published in the journal PloS ONE (Andreassen et al., 2016)
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