Overtime Work as a Predictor of Major Depressive Episode: A 5-year Follow-Up of the Whitehall II Study

PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30719. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030719. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Abstract

Background: The association between overtime work and depression is still unclear. This study examined the association between overtime work and the onset of a major depressive episode (MDE).

Methodology/principal findings: Prospective cohort study with a baseline examination of working hours, psychological morbidity (an indicator of baseline depression) and depression risk factors in 1991-1993 and a follow-up of major depressive episode in 1997-1999 (mean follow-up 5.8 years) among British civil servants (the Whitehall II study; 1626 men, 497 women, mean age 47 years at baseline). Onset of 12-month MDE was assessed by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) at follow-up. In prospective analysis of participants with no psychological morbidity at baseline, the odds ratio for a subsequent major depressive episode was 2.43 (95% confidence interval 1.11 to 5.30) times higher for those working 11+ hours a day compared to employees working 7-8 hours a day, when adjusted for socio-demographic factors at baseline. Further adjustment for chronic physical disease, smoking, alcohol use, job strain and work-related social support had little effect on this association (odds ratio 2.52; 95% confidence interval 1.12 to 5.65).

Conclusions/significance: Data from middle-aged civil servants suggest that working long hours of overtime may predispose to major depressive episodes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Workload / psychology*