As somebody who is convinced that they're medically addicted to being chill, it's hard to imagine that there are people who are actually addicted to work. But according to a Norwegian study published in the scientific journal PLOS One, work addiction, aka no chill disorder, is a real thing lots of people suffer from — and it's actually pretty serious.
Here in America, people pride themselves on working hard. It's sort of the status quo, to be plugged-in around the clock and always set to stress mode. But in other countries, where people put a higher value on quality of life outside of the office and interpersonal lives and activities, being glued to your work phone and obsessed with your job is not the kind of behavior that gets a pat on the back. In fact, it makes people concerned.
In Norway, psychiatric conditions were linked to work addiction, like ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression. Meaning, some people who over-commit themselves to their jobs are actually suffering from a pre-existing condition. The problem with trying to satisfy anxiety, OCD tendencies, and restless depression with work is simply that it's not a fix. Work addiction can exacerbate these serious conditions that need to be treated by a mental health professional.
And while this study might not specifically pertain to American workers, it does leave you to wonder: how many work addicts here are suffering from mental distress and don't even know it? The University of Bergen created some criteria for detecting a work addiction, here are some of the signs:
You Need More Time
You're always thinking about how you can free up more time to work. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get all of the work done that you want. If you can move around your schedule to get more work time in, you will, always. Sometimes you even give up sleep time to work more.
You're Always Going Overboard
You spend much more time working than initially intended. You planned on spending an hour or two and ended up putting in five hours. You have trouble cutting yourself off and there always seems to be something else you could be working on. You never know when to stop.
You Work Away The Feelings
You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness or depression. The more you work, the less the feelings weigh on you. You put in the time to self-soothe and rely on the work to remove the effect of the feelings you have on a regular basis.
Your Friends Are Worried
You have been told by others to cut down on work but you don't listen to them. You think your work habits are just fine and that your friends are over-exaggerating or just have lesser work ethics than you. Your health is not the concern, getting the work done is.
You Need That Work Fix
Just like a smoker might become anxious without a cigarette after a few hours, you become stressed if you are prohibited from working. You need to be near the WiFi, you need to be in touch, you need to be making "progress" all the time and when you know that you won't be able to work, you feel incredible uncomfortable and anxious.
You Have Only One Focus
The things you used to enjoy outside of the office have become much less important to you. You de-prioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work — that's the only thing that gives you "joy" now.
You're Working Yourself Sick
You're not sleeping enough, you're not eating right, you're not taking care of yourself. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health. You might not even realize how much it's affected you until you see a doctor and have to stare the facts in the face.