In stressful jobs, depression risk rises with hours worked

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Depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day.

When a sad mood lasts for a long time and interferes with normal, everyday functioning, you may be depressed.

In a study from the University of Michigan, scientists found the more hours someone works each week in a stressful job, the more their risk of depression rises.

Working 90 or more hours a week was linked to changes in depression symptom scores three times larger than the change in depression symptoms among those working 40 to 45 hours a week.

What’s more, a higher percentage of those who worked a large number of hours had scores high enough to qualify for a diagnosis of moderate to severe depression – serious enough to warrant treatment – compared with those working fewer hours.

In the study, the research team used advanced statistical methods to emulate a randomized clinical trial, accounting for many other factors in the doctors’ personal and professional lives.

They used 11 years’ worth of data on more than 17,000 first-year medical residents. The recently graduated doctors were in training at hundreds of hospitals across the United States.

The team found a “dose-response” effect between hours worked and depression symptoms, with an average symptom increase of 1.8 points on a standard scale for those working 40 to 45 hours, ranging up to 5.2 points for those working more than 90 hours.

They conclude that, among all the stressors affecting physicians, working a large number of hours is a major contributor to depression.

The authors say their findings point to a clear need to further reduce the number of hours residents work each week on average.

This analysis suggests strongly that reducing the average number of work hours would make a difference in the degree to which interns’ depressive symptoms increase over time, and reduce the number who develop diagnosable depression.

The key thing is to have people work fewer hours; people can more effectively deal with the stresses or frustrations of their jobs when they have more time to recover.

If you care about depression, please read studies about mindfulness therapy that could benefit people with depression, and this depression drug can improve cognitive function quickly.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies that widely used depression drugs may lead to higher death risk, and results showing how your eating rhythms impact your mental health.

The study was conducted by Amy Bohnert et al and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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