A Guide to Work Addiction

By The Fix staff 08/02/14

Classified by many psychologists as an obsessive-compulsive disorder amounting to a behavioral addiction, work addiction is also known as workaholism. It occurs when a person’s work schedule reaches a relentless inner-driven level even though there are not deadlines to meet (except often in the mind of the individual) nor immediate financial concerns. Workaholics often use work as a coping mechanism to deal with anxiety, depression and well-buried self-esteem issues, or as an avoidance mechanism to cope with social interactions in which they are not comfortable. Given the economic pressures of current society, workaholism is often mistakenly viewed as a positive behavior even though it is detrimental to the sufferers and to the people close to them. 

Symptoms and Signs of Work Addiction

One of the main symptoms of work addiction is a major imbalance between work and home. Workaholics tend to spend most of their time working, thinking about work, preparing for work or, when things slow down, making new work to keep them busy. Work addicts often ignore their personal and social lives and in some cases disregard their own health until they become debilitated. Behavioral symptoms can include: control and authority issues, low self-esteem, irritability, denial, anxiety when you are not at work, perfectionism and escapism, obsession with receiving approval, and lying about failures and successes in the workplace. 

Risks and Effects of Work Addiction

Work addiction is often rooted in a larger emotional problem that the addict has not addressed. Workaholics will ignore their health in favor of feeding their work obsession, which can lead to physical and mental breakdowns, heart attacks, increased weight gain, high blood pressure, severe depression and increased risk of anxiety attacks and burn out. Children and spouses of a work addict often suffer due to little to no support from the work addict. 

Getting Help with Work Addiction

Forms of help available for the work addict include behavioral therapy, rehabilitation, and hotlines. 



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