Research

Long working hours linked to depression risk in women
A study has found that working very long hours – 55 plus a week - is linked to a heightened risk of depression in women. The observational study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health also found working weekends is associated with an increased risk in both sexes. The paper noted the expansion of the global and gig economies has driven the need to work outside standard 'office' hours - a factor that has been associated with poorer physical health. The researchers, led by Gillian Weston of University College London, drew on data from Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), which has been tracking the health and wellbeing of a representative sample of 40,000 households across the UK since 2009.

There was no difference in the number of depressive symptoms between men who put in fewer or more hours than the standard working week, or who worked weekends. But weekend working was associated with significantly more depressive symptoms among men when work conditions were accounted for.

Among women, depressive symptoms were associated with the number of weekends worked. In addition, women who worked 55 or more hours a week and/or who worked most/every weekend had the worst mental health of all, with significantly more depressive symptoms than women working standard hours. The authors note: "Such jobs, when combined with frequent or complex interactions with the public or clients, have been linked to higher levels of depression." They add: "Our findings of more depressive symptoms among women working extra long hours might also be explained by the potential double burden experienced by women when their long hours in paid work are added on their time in domestic labour. 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 health."
Read more: Gillian Weston and others. Long work hours, weekend working and depressive symptoms in men and women: findings from a UK population-based study, [Full article] Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, published Online First, 25 February 2019. Source: RIsks 887

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