It’s understandable if you envision your kid as a captain of industry when they grow up, since they took so naturally to running your house. But if you’ve already decided their college major or tried to get the nickname STEM to stick (it hasn’t), be warned: A new study of 16,426 working adults suggests that workaholism is maybe no joke and might have legitimately worrisome consequences.
Researchers from Yale University and Nottingham Trent University found that workaholics were more likely to exhibit symptoms of ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression across the board. They defined “workaholic” as “being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation, and to investing so much time and effort to work that it impairs other important life areas.” Although the amount of people who qualified represented just 7.8 percent of the overall sample (about 1,287 individuals), 37.2 percent of workaholics met the DSM criteria for ADHD (compared to 12.7 percent of non-workaholics), 25.6 percent of workaholics met OCD criteria (compared to 8.7 percent of non-workaholics), 33.8 percent of workaholics met anxiety criteria (compared to 11.9 percent of non-workaholics), and 8.9 percent of workaholics met depression criteria (compared a mere 2.6 percent of non-workaholics). Of course, workaholics can’t be clinically depressed because they don’t spend enough time in bed.
This study focused on Norwegian adults, and is not necessarily representative of the U.S. However, Norway was ranked the 4th happiest country, while the U.S. was ranked the 13th — so a similar data pull on the home front would likely be even more depressing. Then again, the research showed only correlation, not causation, and some experts believe that it’s the exact opposite: People with these psychiatric symptoms try to alleviate them with excessive work. Still, it’s something to consider before your kid has to worry about work life balance (even if they’re still just working on their regular balance).