For women, working harder doesn’t always pay off, particularly when it comes to mental health. A study revealed that women who work longer hours a week have an increased risk of depression.
An observational study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health reports that women who worked 55 hours or more a week and/or who worked most/every weekend experienced significantly more depressive symptoms than women working standard hours. With a data sample of 11,215 men and 12,188 women, they came across some interesting findings.
Researchers of the study point to the potential double burden experienced by women when their long hours in paid work are added to the time they put into domestic duties.
Gill Weston, a researcher at University College London and study lead author, said:
“This is an observational study, so although we cannot establish the exact causes, we do know many women face the additional burden of doing a larger share of domestic labor than men, leading to extensive total work hours, added time pressures and overwhelming responsibilities.”
Defining a standard working week as 35 to 40 hours a week, researchers came up with the following categories.
- Less than standard working hours: <35 hours a week
- Standard working hours: 35-40 hours a week
- Long working hours: 41-55 hours a week
- Extra-long working hours: 55+ hours a week
They also noted that women are more likely to work longer hours in male-dominated occupations, and those working weekends are more likely to work in low-paid service sector jobs.
“Women, in general, are more likely to be depressed than men, and this was no different in the study. Independent of their working patterns, we also found that workers with the most depressive symptoms were older, on lower incomes, smokers, in physically demanding jobs, and who were dissatisfied at work… We hope our findings will encourage employers and policy-makers to think about how to reduce the burdens and increase support for women who work long or irregular hours — without restricting their ability to work when they wish to.”
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