Men are less likely to be stressed by long hours at work, research suggests

Men who work long hours are less likely to become depressed than women who have similarly time consuming roles, a study from researchers at University College London and Queen Mary University has found. The study of more than 20,000 adults published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that women who worked 55 hours or more a week had 7.3 per cent more depressive symptoms than those on a standard 35-40 hour week. No significant link was found for men working the same hours.

Weekend working was also linked to a higher risk of depression among both sexes, but women appeared to suffer more, with 4.6 per cent more depressive symptoms compared to the 3.4 per cent rise for men. Only 4 per cent of women in the study worked more than 55 hours, compared with 12 per cent of men, while half of women worked part time, compared with 15 per cent of men. Men working the fewest hours were more likely to be depressed, which could be because they tended to be poorer and sicker, according to the researchers.

The academics argued that the growth of the ‘gig economy ‘and a growing inability for people to switch off from work made studying the link between working hours and mental ill-health increasingly important, pointing to the Japanese phenomenon of karoshi, or death from overwork.

The study could not explain the outcomes but lead researcher Gill Weston said: “We do know many women face the additional burden of doing a larger share of domestic labour, leading to extensive total work hours, added time pressures and overwhelming responsibilities. Additionally women who work most weekends tend to be concentrated in low-paid service sector jobs, which have been linked to higher levels of depression.”