What Workaholism Reveals About Your Mental Health

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. For someone to Call:  Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. For someone to come to you: Request the Mobile Response Team (MRT) through 988 or call them directly at 301 429-2185.

We live in a culture that often celebrates the hustle, praising those who stay late at the office, check emails on weekends, and take pride in their dedication to work. But when does hard work cross the line into workaholism (aka working too much)?

Workaholism isn’t just about working hard; it’s an obsessive compulsion to work, often at the expense of personal relationships, health, and well-being. While healthy work habits include maintaining a balance between work and personal life, workaholics tend to blur or completely erase those boundaries.

Signs of Workaholic Behavior

  • Prioritize work over everything else: Even during vacations or personal events, they can’t disconnect from work-related tasks.
  • Have difficulty delegating: Believing they must handle everything themselves.
  • Experience guilt when not working: Feeling guilty or anxious when not immersed in work.
  • Work excessively long hours: The typical 8-hour workday often extends to 10, 12, or more, with weekends and late nights also on the table.
  • Sacrifice personal well-being: Often neglecting sleep, exercise, and other forms of self-care in favor of work.

The Relationship Between Workaholism and Mental Health

The impact of workaholism on mental health is profound. This obsessive compulsion to work often masks deeper psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, or even unresolved trauma. The constant drive to achieve can lead to severe burnout, where physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion reach critical levels.

Mental Health Issues Linked to Workaholism

Studies show that workaholics are at a higher risk of developing:

  • Anxiety and Depression: The constant stress and pressure to perform can lead to chronic anxiety and depressive episodes.
  • Burnout: Prolonged work without adequate rest can lead to a state of burnout, characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced efficacy.
  • Sleep Disorders: The inability to disconnect from work can cause insomnia and other sleep-related issues.

Workaholism can serve as a coping mechanism for underlying distress. Instead of dealing with emotional issues, individuals immerse themselves in work to avoid confronting their problems.

Navigating Workaholism in a Hybrid and Virtual Environment

The shift to hybrid and remote work has brought new challenges in maintaining a work-life balance. Without the physical separation between the office and home, many find it difficult to disconnect.

6 Strategies for Setting Boundaries

  • Create a designated workspace: Establish a dedicated area for work to help maintain a boundary between work and personal life.
  • Set clear work hours: Define specific times for work and stick to them, resisting the urge to check emails or continue working outside those hours.
  • Use technology to your advantage: Use tools that help manage time effectively and set reminders to take breaks.
  • Communicate with colleagues and supervisors: Let them know your work hours and when you are unavailable.
  • Prioritize self-care and leisure activities: Engage in hobbies, exercise, and spend time with loved ones.
  • Turn off work notifications during personal time: Avoid the temptation to respond to work-related messages outside of work hours.

When to Look for Professional Help

If you suspect you are struggling with workaholism or related behavioral health issues, seeking professional help is essential. A behavioral health professional can provide guidance and support to navigate the underlying causes of workaholism.

TLC-MD is a key advocate for behavioral health organizations in Maryland. There are several resources available if you need help managing stress or have other behavioral health concerns:

Crisis Helplines & Locations:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call or text 988 and ask for the Mobile Response Team (MRT) or chat at 988lifeline.org. This national hotline connects individuals with crisis counselors who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and behavioral health emergencies.
  • Maryland Crisis Hotline: Dial 211 and press 1 for information, referral, and crisis intervention. This statewide helpline provides access to trained crisis counselors 24/7. They can assist with crisis intervention, provide information on local resources, and offer emotional support. 
  • Dyer Care Center: This is a 23-hour outpatient facility in Prince George’s County that provides emergency crisis stabilization for mental health, behavioral health, and substance use. The center will be opening soon. To learn more, visit tlc-md.org or contact us at (888) 900–1257.

Reach Out to Local Organizations

Maryland has several organizations that focus on behavioral health and/or substance use support. Here are a few:

  • NAMI Maryland (National Alliance on Mental Illness): NAMI Maryland offers resources, support groups, and education programs for individuals and families. They have local chapters throughout the state.
  • Maryland Behavioral Health Administration (BHA): BHA oversees behavioral health services in Maryland and can connect you with resources, treatment options, and crisis support services.
  • SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a treatment locator tool that can help you find nearby behavioral health and/or substance use treatment facilities.

If you are a resident in Southern Maryland in need of behavioral health and/or substance use services, contact the following local government organizations:

If you have any questions or need additional help to find resources in your area, contact info@tlc-md.org.

Workaholism is a complex issue with far-reaching implications for mental and physical health. While hard work is commendable, it’s essential to strike a balance between work and personal life. By setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and seeking professional help when needed, you can maintain a healthier relationship with work and protect your mental health. Remember, your well-being is the foundation for long-term success and happiness.