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Working Long Hours Doubles Depression Risk

news / 2012-01-27

Plus, tips to keep your sanity.
Working long hours doubles your risk of depression, warns a new study. Employees who clock up 11 or more hours a day have a two-fold increased likelihood of developing depression compared to those working a seven or eight-hour shift, according to the report.

Researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health followed about 2,000 middle-aged civil servants and found a "robust association" between overtime and depression.

"Although occasionally working overtime may have benefits for the individual and society, it is important to recognize working excessive hours is also associated with an increased risk of major depression," says Dr Marianna Virtanen, who led the research.

To keep your sanity, it is crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance and learn to relax. Here are some ways to decompress when the workload gets crazy:

Disconnect when you get home: Learn to slow down and "turn off" work at the end of the day. When you get back, switch off your BlackBerry and shut down your laptop -- don't take work stress home with you. These rituals shift you into off-hours mode.

Take short breaks at work: Get up from your desk every hour or so for a quick stretch. Move around -- get some water, make a cup of coffee, stand up when you're on the phone. At lunch, be sure to get out of the office and take a quick stroll.

Exercise regularly: Moderate exercise 30 minutes five times a week eases tension and prevents negative effects of stress to the body by stimulating the production of feel-good brain chemicals. It also helps cut the risk of depression by 50 percent, according to a study.

Take a vacation: Vacations offer a break from the daily grind. Even if you can't take a long leave, a short getaway at the local spa resort has the power to rejuvenate, relax and recharge your batteries.

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