Long Working Hours Linked to Depression

People who work over 11 hours a day are more than twice as likely to become depressed than those who work eight hours, according to new research.

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki and University College London followed 2,123 British civil servants between 35 and 55 without a history of mental illness and in different positions and departments for six years. The researchers found that the percentage of depression patients was 2.5 times greater among those who worked an average of 11 hours or more per day than those who worked seven to eight hours, CNN reported Wednesday.

Those who were younger and in lower position in the hierarchy were more likely to suffer depression, and there was no association between working hours and depression in those in higher ranks. Alan Gelenberg, the chair of the psychiatry department at Pennsylvania State University, explained that higher-ups "have more control over what we work on."

The Independent newspaper on Thursday added that existing research reveals that people who work overtime on a regular basis are 60 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease. Experts say stressful work environments are a problem. Paul Farmer, the chief executive of leading U.K. mental health charity Mind, said, "Making employees work excessive hours is a false economy, as not only are tired, unhappy workers less productive, but they risk developing mental health issues that if handled badly, can be costly to businesses." 

The new study was published on Wednesday in online science journal PLoS ONE.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 27, 2012 13:30 KST