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Long Working Hours Linked to Increased Risk of Depression

Last Updated: January 26, 2012.

Working 11 or more hours a day is associated with a significant increase in the likelihood of a major depressive episode among British civil servants, compared with working a seven to eight hour day, according to a study published online Jan. 25 in PLoS One.

THURSDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Working 11 or more hours a day is associated with a significant increase in the likelihood of a major depressive episode (MDE) among British civil servants, compared with working a seven to eight hour day, according to a study published online Jan. 25 in PLoS One.

Marianna Virtanen, Ph.D., of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, and colleagues conducted a prospective analysis of working hours, psychological morbidity, and depression risk factors among 1,626 male and 497 female British civil servants (mean age, 47 years). They evaluated the association between overtime work and onset of a MDE, as assessed by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview at follow-up (mean, 5.8 years).

The researchers found that, for those participants without psychological morbidity at baseline, individuals who worked for 11 or more hours per day had an odds ratio (OR) of 2.43 for a subsequent MDE, compared with those working seven to eight hours per day; this was after adjusting for sociodemographic factors at baseline. The association remained significant (OR, 2.52), even after adjusting for chronic physical disease, smoking, alcohol use, job strain, and work-related social support.

"Data from middle-aged civil servants suggest that working long hours of overtime may predispose to major depressive episodes," the authors write.

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