Here’s How to Tell if you’re Addicted to Work


How to Know if you`re a Workaholic

It was Wayne Oates who first used the term, “workaholism” when he defined it as a compulsion or an uncontrollable need to work perpetually. Psychologists and mental health researchers have, since then, used the term. Although the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) doesn`t formally recognize it as a diagnosable disorder, it’s clearly a mental health condition that has an impact on people’s lives.

Workaholism is a work addiction that makes individuals develop psychological, social, and emotional, dependence on work. People with work addiction usually work compulsively at the expense of other aspects of their lives. They may unnecessarily work long hours lose sleep so they can work, and get paranoid about their work performance.

It is important to note that work addiction is not the same as merely working long hours is not necessarily work addiction. Back in 1998, studies claimed that the United States had some of the highest rates of people working more than 50 hours per week, however, it doesn’t make us a nation of workaholics. The difference between someone who merely works long hours and a workaholic is that the latter is addicted to work and struggles to psychologically detach from it, even when they’re not in the office nor have any reasons to be working.

Struggling to detach from work can lead to high levels of stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. These may lead to chronic stress, and result in high blood pressure, high cortisol levels, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even death.

People with work addiction may also have issues with their relationships, as they may suffer loneliness, isolation, and depression. Sometimes, workaholism may coexist with other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Symptoms of Work Addiction

  • being obsessed with work-related success
  • putting in long hours at work, even when not needed
    losing sleep to work
  • disintegrating personal relationships because of work
  • having a defensive attitude toward others about work
  • having an intense fear of failure at work
  • being paranoid about work-related performance
  • using work as a way to avoid relationships
  • working to cope with feelings of depression or guilt
  • working to avoid dealing with crises like divorce, financial issues, or death

How to Deal with Work Addiction

Dealing with work addiction may just be similar to dealing with other kinds of addiction. This implies that there are various ways to address it. While some will be fine with self-care, others may need a therapist. Let`s discuss some simple ways to deal with this condition.

Set Time Limits for Work

alarmThis will help you begin work at a certain time and stop at a certain time also. It will also include breaks for food and social activities. No doubt, people who feel a compulsive need to work will find it difficult to set time limits, however, they have to. Such people are quick to think that the amount of time they spend working determines their success, however, the reality is that being able to complete one`s work in less time depicts higher efficiency. Setting time limits is not about being negligent about work or taking shortcuts. It`s really about setting boundaries and committing to them.

Schedule Post-Work Activities

Have something to look forward to after work. You may plan to meditate, go for a walk, write in a journal, or make dinner. Creating a routine will give your schedule a better structure and keep you engaged

See a Therapist or Counselor

A therapist or counselor can work with you to understand your compulsive need to work and help you work to minimize the negative effects of overworking. If you also have a coexisting mental health condition, such as OCD or bipolar disorder, they can help develop a treatment plan that works for you.

Make Time for Friends and Family

Try scheduling some time on your calendar to call or text family and friends. You should also set aside time to visit some of them. By all means, ensure nothing hinders your plan to achieve this.

Types of Workaholics

There are many types of workaholics, going by the many categorizations by various scholars and psychologists. Let`s look at a few.

The Relentless Workaholics

These workaholics try to work all the time because they believe that work is more important than anything else in life.

The Procrastinating Workaholics

These ones procrastinate their work until the last minute when they start working frantically to accomplish their task.

The High Stimulus-Seeking Workaholics

They get easily bored, and as a result, seek excitement from busy work schedules.

The Bureapathic Workaholics

These workaholics prolong their tasks and create additional work for themselves and sometimes, others.

Some facts About Work Addiction


  • Workaholics check emails during the night and first thing in the morning.
  • Workaholics are the first to arrive at work and the last to leave.
  • Workaholics prioritize work before their personal lives.
  • Workaholics worry about work, even while on a day off.
  • People with work addiction have difficulties switching off while on vacation, or they work throughout their vacations.
  • Some workaholics say they feel like they are too pressured or too busy to take annual leave.
  • People with work addiction skip their lunch breaks at work.
  • Some workaholics say that they feel anxious if they don’t know what’s going on at work.

Some Mental Health Facts

  • One in five Americans has suffered some form of mental illness, with one in 25 experiencing critical mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
  • The rate of mental health disorders doubles for people who have lived through a major disaster or been to war.
  • People with mental health issues are generally nonviolent. Studies show that only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to people with a severe mental illness.
  • Genetics, injury, physical illness, and traumatic life experiences are all causes of mental health illness.
  • People who suffer from dissociative fugue experience reversible amnesia that involves personality, memories, and personal identity.
  • Dissociative identity disorder is a condition marked by the presence of two or more distinct personalities within one individual.
  • Only about 1/3 of people suffering from anxiety disorders get adequate treatment or counseling.
  • Dissociative amnesia is a condition that entails an inability to remember important information about one`s life.
  • A number of people with mental illness don`t seek treatment due to the fear of being stigmatized. Studies show that only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental illnesses receive treatment.
  • Treatment for mental health problems can include prescribed or OTC medication, yoga, meditation, and therapy.

Now that you Know…

People with an addiction to work feel a compulsive need to do their job. When they’re away from it, they find it difficult to take it off their minds, and as a result, it affects their mental and physical health, as well as their personal relationships. Fortunately, it is a condition that they can overcome.

The most successful people understand the importance of work-life balance. They particularly understand the importance of creating time for activities outside work. A healthy work-life balance can make a person energized, happier, and more refreshed, which in turn, enhances their creativity and efficiency at work. This also extends to their personal relationships, as they relate better with people in their lives.