The Daily Mail, a leading U.K tabloid reported that according to Whitehall II study, workers who spend more than 11 hours a day, or 55 hours a week, in front of their office desks are at the risk of developing depression. The risk is two and half times greater than those who spend standard hours .i.e. 7-8 hours a day in their offices.
Women, younger people, people with long physical illness, and workers who have low pay grade and consume alcohol are the most vulnerable ones. The study was conducted on 2,123 male and female British civil servants aged between 35 to 55. The employees were working since early 1990s and had different nature of job, salaries and working hours.
At the beginning of the study, the civil servants were asked to complete a questionnaire related to their lifestyle and working conditions. The study continued for six years. Scientists from two London universities and their colleagues in Finland confirmed a strong association between overtime and depression. Moreover, other depression causing factors, such as unhealthy lifestyles, marital status and a degree of job stress were also taken into consideration.
The Whitehall II study is considered one of the most detailed researches on the association between working hours and health of British people. Of those who were questioned, 66 were found to have developed a 'major depressive episode' during the follow-up period.
The other theory given by the study was that employees of high pay grades with challenging jobs showed relatively low levels of depression in spite of long working hours.
Characteristics of Depression
Depression can be mild, moderate or severe and is categorised on the basis of intensity of symptoms. The symptoms of depression will be present for a period of at least two weeks in mild depressive episode, but the person will be able to continue day-to-day living. A patient suffering from moderate depression experiences severe symptoms and carrying out daily activities becomes difficult for him. A severely depressed person needs immediate medical help as he may suffer from hallucinations and delusions.
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