How to tell if you are addicted to work

Since we are all affected by economic changes, many of us are working harder than ever and therefore feel overworked. However, for some people, the urge to work more and more is not just to pay the bills—some people are addicted to work.

What is a “workaholic”?

Work addiction or “workaholic” was originally used to describe the uncontrollable need to work continuously. Workaholics are people who suffer from this disease.

Although it is a widely recognized and accepted concept in popular culture, and although the literature on the subject has been around for forty years, work addiction is not a formally recognized disease or mental disorder. It does not appear in the current version of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM), namely DSM-5.

One reason for the lack of awareness of work addiction is that work—even overwork—is generally considered a positive trait rather than a problem. Excessive work is rewarded economically and culturally, and may cause workers to be viewed in a more positive way in different ways. However, work addiction can be a very real problem and interfere with function and interpersonal relationships in a similar way to other addictions.

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The original reason for creating the term “workaholic” was to prove the similarities between work addiction and alcoholism, which may be more accurate than the general belief that overworked people are responsible and ethical people.

Problems related to work addiction

Although overwork is usually praised and even rewarded, there are also problems related to work addiction.

Like other addictions, work addiction is driven by compulsiveness rather than healthy satisfaction.

In fact, people who are addicted to work may be very unhappy and distressed about work, they may pay too much attention to work, they may feel that their work desires are out of control, and they may spend too much time, energy and energy. Efforts at work damage non-work relationships and activities outside of work.

Signs and symptoms

Although it is difficult to accurately define work addiction, several signs of workaholics have been identified. They include:

  • Increased busyness without increasing productivity
  • Obsessed with thinking about how to free up more time for work
  • Spend more working time than expected
  • Excessive use of work to maintain self-worth
  • Try to reduce feelings of guilt, depression, anxiety, or hopelessness
  • Ignore other people’s suggestions or requests to reduce work
  • Interpersonal problems caused by overwork or concentration
  • Work-related stress and/or health problems caused by overwork
  • Use work as a way to cope with, avoid, or numb feelings
  • Cultivate work tolerance, so more work is needed to get the same effect
  • If you can’t work or don’t work, you will feel stressful
  • When you try to reduce or stop, you overwork again
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These signs and symptoms of work addiction have many characteristics in common with other addictions, especially other behavioral addictions, in which commitment to activity or behavior becomes more and more important and obscures other important areas of life and relationships.

What if I might be addicted to work?

If you think you might be addicted to work, try taking a break and see how you feel. If you can’t stop thinking about work, and if you feel like you are avoiding work to avoid other responsibilities or uncomfortable feelings, then you may benefit from treatment by a mental health professional.

Although you are unlikely to find a work addiction treatment plan, many of the methods used to treat other addictions can be used to help control a range of addictive behaviors.