Category : Health
Author : Sana Rubiyana

Symptoms of a work addiction include:

• Putting in long hours at the office, even when not needed • Losing sleep to engage in work projects or to finish tasks

• Being obsessed with work-related success

• Having intense fear of failure at work

• Being paranoid about work-related performances

• Disintegrating personal relationships because of work

• Having a defensive attitude towards others about their work

• Using work as a way to avoid relationships

• Working to cope with feelings of guilt or depression

• Working to avoid dealing with crises like death, divorce or financial trouble

Work addiction, often called workaholism, is a real mental health condition. Like any other addiction, work addiction is the inability to stop the behaviour. It often stems from a compulsive need to achieve status and success or to escape emotional stress. Work addiction is often driven by job success. And it’s common in people described as perfectionists. Much like someone with a drug addiction, a person with a work addiction achieves a ‘high’ from working. This leads them to keep repeating the behaviour that gives them this ‘high’. People with a work addiction may be unable to stop the behaviour despite the negative ways it may affect their personal life or physical or mental health.

In a culture where hard work is praised and putting overtime is often expected, it can be difficult to recognize work addiction. People with a work addiction will often justify their behaviour by explaining why it is a good thing and can help them achieve success. They simply appear committed to their job or the success of their projects. However, ambition and addiction are quite different. A person with a work addiction may engage in compulsive work to avoid other aspects of their life, like troubling emotional issues or personal crises. And similar to other addictions, the person may engage in the behaviour unaware of the negative effects that the addiction is causing.

Symptoms of a work addiction include:

• Putting in long hours at the office, even when not needed

• Losing sleep to engage in work projects or to finish tasks

• Being obsessed with work-related success

• Having intense fear of failure at work

• Being paranoid about work-related performances

• Disintegrating personal relationships because of work

• Having a defensive attitude towards others about their work • Using work as a way to avoid relationships

• Working to cope with feelings of guilt or depression

• Working to avoid dealing with crises like death, divorce or financial trouble Like most addictions, work addiction will get worse over time until a person seeks help. People may experience “burnout” if they work to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. This is a common result of work addiction.

 Burnout can lead to extreme stress, damaged relationships and even drug abuse. Without treatment, a person could alienate oneself from friends and family. Waiting too long could damage relationships permanently. Also, Chronic stress that sometimes results from constant working can be hard on physical health.

Overwork may lead to a weakened immune system and increased risk of disease. But fortunately, work addiction is manageable. With treatment, people can restore a healthy work-life balance. People with a work addiction often work to avoid feelings of guilt about not working. So it’s important for the recovering addict to develop a healthy relationship with work. Most of us need to work to pay bills, so creating a balance is crucial. In most cases, it is impossible to simply stop working. It may be helpful to take some time off from work to realize that life will go on without constant work.

A career change may also help manage the addiction. As a psychosocial condition, work addiction is usually much easier to control than drug addiction.

The following changes might also help:

• Making lifestyle changes

• Balancing your life activities

• Avoiding stressors and triggers

Treatment options: Work addiction can result from a coexisting mental health condition such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder. The addiction could also cause mental health issues, such as depression. For these reasons, it may be helpful to have a mental health assessment. A mental expert can help design a treatment plan. The plan will address the addiction and underlying problems. One-on-one therapy and even medications could help control impulses, anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances.

BY: Sana Rubiyana Psychologist and RECBT Therapist sanarubiana@gmail.com

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