work addiction

Work Addiction: The Crisis Nobody Is Talking About

Working tirelessly to earn promotions and the respect of your peers is a uniquely American concept. The U.S. has become the most overworked developed nation in the world, with the majority of people working more than 40 hours a week to stay competitive. This phenomenon has resulted in thousands of unused vacation days, not to mention worker burnout and the steady erosion of work-life balance.

Having the motivation to go the extra mile with your work is an admirable quality, but how can you tell when your ambition has crossed the line into a full-fledged work addiction?

What Is a Work Addiction?

Being a hard worker and wanting to give 100% to your job doesn’t necessarily indicate you have a work addiction. If, however, you find that working gives you feelings of intense euphoria, and that you often have trouble setting boundaries between your job responsibilities and the rest of your life, you may have developed a problem. 

A work addiction may arise out of a sense of perfectionism, or the idea that you must always strive to outperform your colleagues. If you find yourself compelled to work ever-harder, despite the adverse effects it’s having on your life, you could be addicted to your job.

How Can You Tell If You Have a Work Addiction?

In today’s economy, many of us are working more than ever to make ends meet. However, for some people, their job goes far beyond the need to pay the bills.

Warning signs of a work addiction include:

  • Using work to cover up emotional upheaval in other areas of your life
  • Putting in longer hours than needed to get the job done
  • Fixating on succeeding at work, to the detriment of your relationships with others
  • Losing sleep due to worries about your job
  • Loss of work-life balance
  • Fear of failure or feelings of paranoia about your job performance

What to Do If You’re a Workaholic

Though we all recognize the concept of “workaholism,” or the compulsion to work constantly, you might be surprised to learn work addiction is not a formally recognized mental disorder in that it does not appear in the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5. One of the reasons for this lack of recognition is that American culture defines work – even excessively – as a positive trait, rather than a problem. However, people who fall prey to work addiction are often profoundly unhappy, anxious and even depressed about their jobs.

Today’s constantly connected workplace culture has significantly blurred the lines between job responsibilities and home life. If you’re fortunate enough to have a job that has allowed you to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, that has also contributed to this problem. If you hear the ping of an incoming email and leap to respond, regardless of what time it is, it will benefit your mental health to turn off your notifications and tell your co-workers there are specific hours when they shouldn’t expect a reply.

Serene Behavioral Health is here for you if you are ready to admit to your issues and accept qualified help. Our four treatment levels ensure you can get treatment for your exceptional needs. We’re here to respond to you on your terms – please reach out today.

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