Are you highly engaged at your job or is it workaholism?

“The upside of workaholism brings honor, but the downside carries a stigma… Sadly, in the 21st century, work addiction has become so pervasive that many of us don’t see the condition or realize how serious it really is” (Robinson, B., Chained to the Desk, 2017).

Workaholism can be defined as a “stable tendency to compulsively and excessively work” (Journal of Behavioral Addiction, 2014).  There are several components to the definition of workaholism, which are motivational, cognitive, emotional and behavioral.  The motivational portional of the definition implies that workaholics are different from people who are simply just highly engaged with their jobs. Instead, workaholics don’t enjoy their work because they feel compelled to work because of internal pressures.  Cognitively, workaholics find it mentally difficult to disengage from work and have persistent thoughts about work when they’re not working.  Emotionally, workaholics experience negative emotions like anxiety and guilt when they aren’t working.  And finally behaviorally, workaholics tend to work beyond what is reasonably expected of them by their organization.  Each of these can be triggered or fostered by internal needs, external factors, underlying personality traits and more (Clark, M., “Psychology of Workaholism”, 2017).

Workaholics may devote excessive time and mental energy to work in an effort to feel competent, especially if they feel that they are lacking in other areas of their lives.  Sometimes there are other deeper issues that need to be addressed, such as emotionally issues and trauma.  The percentage of people meeting the clinical definition for mental health disorders are:

  • ADHD

    • Workaholics: 32.7%

    • Non-workaholics: 12.7%

  • OCD

    • Workaholics: 25.6%

    • Non-workaholics: 8.7%

  • Anxiety

    • Workaholics: 33.8%

    • Non-workaholics: 11.9%

  • Depression

    • Workaholics: 8.9%

    • Non-workaholics: 2.6% (Psychology Today, 2016).

According to Matsudaira et. al. in 2013, workaholism is a risk factor for depressive mood, disabling back pain and sickness absence.  In addition, workaholism has also been classified as an addiction.  In an article from Scheen in 2013, workaholism belongs in the category of behavioral addiction because a true workaholic’s compulsive behavior “has negative consequences on his mental and physical health, his social and familial relationships and family and his work performance itself.”


A good plan of action to stop the cycle of workaholism is to create a plan for restoring life balance.  This can be any type of self-care through meditation, yoga, leisure activity, being with loved ones or alternative care, such as acupuncture and massage.  Acupuncture and massage can help many of the problems caused by workaholism such as: sleep problems, exhaustion, weight gain, hypertension, anxiety, depression and physical pain (Matsudiara K, Workaholism as a risk factor, 2013).


Acupuncture is also great for treating addiction, whether work related or through anything else.  In a research study conducted by Bergdahl et. al. in 2014, 15 patients going through protracted withdrawal received auricular (ear) acupuncture.  The positives were that it helped bring back relaxation and well-being, peacefulness and harmony, new behaviors, positive physical impact, anxiety reduction, and reduced alcohol and drug consumption.  All respondents appreciated treatment and responded well.  


If any of this seems like it hits home for you, feel free to make an appointment with us here at Liberated Spirit.  Please call or schedule an appointment online through our online schedule, found here: