Small business owner Sara Cumming from Curvy Shack talks about working overtime.
Small business owner Sara Cumming from Curvy Shack talks about working overtime. Christopher Chan

Long days get workers down

PEOPLE who work 11 hours or more each day may be twice as likely to suffer from depression as those who don't.

A new study revealed the odds of a major depressive episode increased more than twofold for those who worked a lot of overtime compared to those working typical seven to eight hour days.

Leading author of the study, Marianna Virtanen, said although working overtime occasionally might have its benefits, the ultimate result could be bad for your health.

"Although occasionally working overtime may have benefits for the individual and society, it is important to recognise working excessive hours is also associated with a risk of major depression," she said.

It is an issue particularly prevalent in Gladstone.

Karen Sweeney, project officer for the Gladstone Small Business Advisory Service, said 11-hour days were often considered "normal" when establishing a small business.

"It's hard to avoid, because at the end of the day you are the one responsible for everything," she said.

"I would say an 11-hour day is standard for a small business owner, especially if they are just starting off."

Ms Sweeney, who has a small business background, said she had no doubt long hours affected your health.

"It's a very big issue, and it's not healthy for you," she said.

"Speaking from experience, it's not only the stress that can have negative health impacts, it's also the fact as a small business owner, you are the last one to keep track of your own health."

The study is published in the online journal PLoS ONE.


Study facts

The study followed 2000 British middle-aged civil servants.

It aimed to examine the association between overtime work and the onset of a major depressive episode.

The results: Working 11 or more hours a day was associated with a 2.3- to 2.5-fold risk of a worker having a major depressive episode than when compared to working 7-8 hours.



According to projections by the World Health Organisation, depressive disorders will be the leading cause of disease burden in high-income countries by 2030.

Depression is one of the most common of all mental health problems.

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Timely tips

Create a list of things you have to do each morning, ensuring you tick them off as you complete them.

If you're feeling stressed or anxious, go for a brisk walk. Yes, actually leave the workplace. You'll feel better for it.

Sleep. Don't scrimp on it.

Give yourself a break, even if it's only every couple of weekends. You'll burn out otherwise.

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