(Natural News) Many people are often exposed to chronic stress because of their jobs. What’s even more alarming is that this could lead to depression. A study published in BMJ’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that women who work extra-long hours are more likely to suffer from depression – but it is not the case for men.
That’s because men and women are different, of course. And they have different neurology, biology and physiology.
Researchers from the University College London and the Queen Mary University of London in the U.K. collaborated to determine how working hours affect the mental health of both men and women. They examined data from the Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), which has been monitoring the health and well-being of a representative sample of 40,000 households across the U.K. since 2009.
The research team gathered information about the working hours, weekend work, working conditions, and psychological distress from 11,215 working men and 12,188 working women between 2010 and 2012. The participants completed a general health questionnaire, so the researchers could measure their depressive symptoms, including feeling worthless or incapable.
After taking age, income, health, and job characteristics into account, the researchers found that women who worked longer than 55 hours a week were more likely to suffer from depression than women working 35 to 40 hours each week. Specifically, women who worked overtime had 7.3 percent more depressive symptoms than those who worked standard hours. Women who worked on all or most of the weekend increased their depressive symptoms by 4.6 percent, on average, compared to women who only worked on Mondays to Fridays or on some weekends.
The researchers also explained that women who work on most weekends were more likely to be in low-paid service sector jobs, which have also been associated with higher levels of depression. They were also more likely to be less satisfied with their job and earnings than those who only worked on weekdays or some weekends.
In addition, the researchers found that men were less likely to suffer from depression even if they worked long hours overall. However, they were still vulnerable to problems if they worked on weekends. Men who worked on all or most weekends had 3.4 percent more depressive symptoms than men working only on weekdays. The researchers explained that the reason behind this gender difference is the fact that women still need to do household chores even after leaving for work. (Related: Gender IS binary: Research shows that even illnesses such as depression affect men and women differently on a DNA level.)
Moreover, they found that married women with children at home were less likely to work long hours than single women. On the other hand, married fathers were more likely to work overtime than their single counterparts.
“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 labour than men, leading to extensive total work hours, added time pressures and overwhelming responsibilities,” explained Gill Weston, of UCL, the lead author of the study.
The researchers hope that their findings would encourage employers and policymakers to consider interventions that would improve psychosocial work conditions and ease women’s burdens without limiting their full participation in the workplace.
Natural ways to beat depression
Both men and women can manage their depression by making healthy lifestyle changes. These include:
- Getting enough sleep – Being well-rested is important in beating depression. Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get seven to nine hours of sleep every night – even on the weekends.
- Exercising – Exercise stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. This can help you destress, improve your mood, and calm you down.
- Eating healthily – On days when you feel down, you may crave junk foods like cookies, candy, chips, and soda. However, these foods can cause irregular spikes on your blood sugar levels, making you feel even more anxious and irritable. Instead of these, eat slower-burning foods like fruits and vegetables, as these will keep your blood sugar steady and your mood stable.
Read more stories on the link between depression and women at WomensHealth.news.