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When women work long hours, they increase their risk of depression
Depression is widespread these days. The stress at work can be one reason why people develop depression. Experts have now found that women who work long hours are more likely to develop depression than men who work long hours.
In their current joint study, scientists from University College London (UCL) and Queen Mary University in London found that women who work long hours are at greater risk of depression than men who work the same length of time. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal of the BMJ "Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health".
The risk of depression increases from 55 working hours per week
If women work more than 55 hours a week, this increases their risk of depression compared to women who had a normal 35 to 40 hour week. The current study included over 20,000 adult subjects. It showed that existing children have different effects on the working patterns of men and women. Mothers tend to work less than women without children, while fathers tend to work more hours than men without children. Overall, men worked longer hours on average.
Women suffer from additional stress
The research work was an observational study. Although the exact causes could not be determined, it is known that many women are faced with the additional burden of doing a larger proportion of housework than men, which leads to extensive working hours, additional time pressure and stress. In addition, women who often work on weekends tend to do lower paid jobs in the service sector, which are associated with a higher level of depression. Doctors are calling for more support for women who spend many hours at work. The researchers found that many women also have to cope with considerable stress at home. If women worked more than 55 hours a week, they were at an increased 7.3 percent risk of suffering from depressive symptoms.
Possible explanations for the increased risk
Gender roles could explain some of the results, as women often have to combine long or irregular hours with unpaid homework and care. Because men still do less housework and childcare than women, reports the research team. Another possible explanation is the fact that men tend to earn more than women and therefore feel that their extra working hours make sense. One of the theories about workplace stress explains that stress arises when there is an imbalance between employee effort and the rewards or support they receive in return. Hopefully, future studies will confirm possible explanations.
Weekend work led to depression
Weekend work was associated with a higher risk of depression in men and women. Women who worked all or most of the weekend had an average of 4.6 percent more depressive symptoms than women who worked only on weekdays. For comparison, this figure was only 3.4 percent for men. About two thirds of the male subjects worked on weekends, compared to half of the women. Participants who worked most weekends were more likely to be in low-skilled jobs and less satisfied with their job and income than those who only worked Monday through Friday or on some weekends. (as)