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Is It Possible To Over-Work in Attempt to Cope with Symptoms of a Mental Illness?

Is It Possible To Over-Work in Attempt to Cope with Symptoms of a Mental Illness?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 20% of adults in the workforce have a mental illness. A mental illness may exhibit symptoms of depression, anxiety, personality or behavioral changes, sleeping and eating pattern changes, irritability, low motivation, and more. Self-medication is an unfortunately common occurrence for many who have a mental illness but don’t quite know it – for some, using substances or engaging in activities such as shopping or gambling is used to help mitigate the undesirable symptoms experienced. Another common coping mechanism is workaholism; although not discussed as frequently, working long hours in attempt to distract oneself from facing uncomfortable or upsetting thoughts or feelings can be just as damaging as other unhealthy addictions.

The Atlantic states that for those with workaholism, work overrides other key areas of life deserving of time and attention – such as relationships, sleep, and focusing on one’s health. Overtime, a person can become unhappy because they’ve missed many of these key areas, while also becoming obsessive over the work they’ve tied their thoughts to. Grief, whether from trauma or major life changes, may also take form in workaholism; anger, guilt, depression, and more may be seen as uncomfortable feelings that one can escape by focusing on the tasks at hand.

When mental health and other major areas of life are neglected in place of work, however, a person’s mental and physical health are likely to decline. A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine evaluated 1,196 employees over the course of 2 years. Researchers assessed participants’ well-being and job performance, as well as ill-health and life satisfaction. Ultimately, the following findings were derived from the study:

  • Workaholism was associated with an increase in ill-health and a decrease in life satisfaction
  • Work engagement was associated with increases in life satisfaction and job performance, with a decrease in ill-health

Not focusing on one’s mental health could in fact lead to a worsening of symptoms, which further perpetuate the negative cycle of addiction. Treatment for mental illness often includes psychotherapy (both at individual and group levels), with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) serving as a very effective intervention approach for many types of conditions. If you are currently struggling with a mental illness or addiction, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center about programs that could suit your needs.

Created by professionals for professionals, our Professionals Treatment Program utilizes industry proven practices for fully restoring professionals back to better health. We serve multiple industries with our specifically catered programs and services, providing life changing care for addiction and co-occurring issues. Call us today to book an appointment: 855-422-4129


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