Workaholism is an unhealthy compulsion to work that often negatively affects people's personal lives, including their relationships with friends and family and even their health. Workaholics have difficulty balancing work with other aspects of their lives and tend to feel anxious if they're not connected to work. They tend to constantly be either working, or thinking about work.
Workaholics Anonymous has created a list of 20 questions to help people recognize workaholic tendencies; answering "yes" to three or more may indicate workaholism. Questions you can ask yourself include:
As with any addiction, the reasons for workaholism are varied. Some research points to possible workaholic roots beginning in childhood.
Children who are raised by alcoholics or in a dysfunctional family setting may use work to try to control an uncomfortable or undesirable situation, both in childhood and as an adult. Also, children raised by perfectionist parents who have high expectations may grow up feeling like their efforts are never good enough, and that they have to continuously prove themselves in life and in work.
Workaholics often use work to escape their feelings and to gain a sense of control in their lives. They search out jobs that are stressful and intense, which can support (and even reward) their workaholic tendencies.
Ironically, even though workaholics may put in an inordinate amount of hours, they tend to be ineffective employees. They are often:
In addition, they are more prone to experiencing depression and anxiety than employees who lead a more balanced life.
Counseling is often an effective treatment for workaholics, and can help them discover the underlying reasons for their behavior and teach them how to change thought patterns and find balance in life. Support groups are also beneficial and can help workaholics learn valuable skills, such as:
Workaholics Anonymous Staff. (n.d.). Twenty questions: How do I know if I'm a workaholic? Retrieved June 6, 2010, from the Workaholics Anonymous website: http://www.workaholics-anonymous.org/page.php?page=signposts.
Lorenz, M. (2007). Are you obsessed with your job? Retrieved June 6, 2010, from the CNN.com website: http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/worklife/09/17/cb.toomuch.work/index.html.
Kirchheimer, S. (n.d.). Workaholism: The 'respectable' addiction. Retrieved June 6, 2010, from the WebMD website: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/workaholism?page=2.
information on health-related topics, not medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment recommendations. Please consult your physician if you have questions