In the modern, industrialized world, hard work is admired and people who demonstrate a high level of commitment to success in the workplace are often highly acclaimed. However, a compulsive drive to work can be just as detrimental as other behavioral disorders such as compulsive gambling, eating or shopping.
The term “workaholism,” coined by an American psychiatrist in 1971, describes a need to work that becomes so overwhelming that it interferes with family, social life and health. Studies indicate that working hours have increased steadily in the last two decades, with many people regularly working more than 60 hours per week. According to “Psychology Today,” the problem is especially pronounced in the United States and Canada. Technology has not made it easier to disconnect from work, many people are "online" 24/7.
Workaholism may manifest in anxiety, irritability and depression, as well as physical problems such as exhaustion, a higher incidence of colds and flu, high blood pressure, stomach problems, muscle and joint pain, headaches and heart or kidney disorders. Because they tend to ignore their health and work through exhaustion, workaholics tend to have a high rate of absenteeism due to illness while still being "connected" by being online with a tablet or smartphone.
What is Workaholism?
Studies indicate that in spite of long hours at the job, workaholics are no more effective than people who work reasonable hours. Although they may be wealthier than the average worker, working so many hours means less time to spend their hard-earned money. As a result, workplace satisfaction has diminished. Detaching from work has been made more difficult by technology.
Experts believe that for many workers, unhealthy work habits are rooted in childhood. For example, a person may become a workaholic in an attempt to please a controlling parent. Children who grow up in poverty may become workaholics (“I’ll never be poor again!”). Like other addictions, workaholics may use work as a temporary refuge from inner battles such as anxiety and depression. Many compulsive workers struggle with undiagnosed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome).