Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Long working hours are associated with incident depressive and anxiety symptoms in women

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


Question: Are long working hours associated with incident symptoms of depression and anxiety?

People: 2960 full-time British office staff aged 35–55 years taking part in the Whitehall II study who were free from depressive symptoms (n=2549) and anxiety symptoms (n=2618) at baseline. Baseline measurements for the current analyses were taken between 1997 and 1999, and follow-up was in 2001 and between 2002 and 2004.

Setting: Twenty civil service departments, London, England; from 1997 to 2004.

Risk factors: Hours worked per week (35–40 h, 41–55 h, or >55 h). Covariates were assessed at baseline and included sex, age, marital status, occupational grade, alcohol consumption, smoking and presence of chronic disease. Employment status at follow-up was also adjusted for in the analysis.

Outcomes: Depressive symptoms (30-item General Health Questionnaire, GHQ), and anxiety symptoms (28-item GHQ).


Design: Cohort study.

Follow-up period: Up to 7 years (mean 5.3 years for depression symptoms, 5.2 years for anxiety symptoms).

Main results

At baseline, those working for more than 55 h per week tended to be men, married or cohabiting, in higher occupational grades, and were …

View Full Text


  • Sources of funding Medical Research Council, UK; British Heart Foundation, UK; Health and Safety Executive, UK; Department of Health, UK; National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, USA; National Institute on Aging, USA; Agency for Health Care Policy Research; John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation Research Networks on Successful Midlife Development and Socioeconomic Status and Health.


  • Competing interests None.