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Shift work linked to increased risk of depression

Posted on the 18th August 2023

Nightshifts and Anxiety Depression

A new study has examined the connection between depression and shift work.

Researchers found that shift work is connected to a higher chance of experiencing depression and anxiety.

Led by Minzhi Xu, Ph.D. from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, the study examined the relationship between shift work and anxiety and depression.

This included 175,543 employed or self-employed individuals who took part in the U.K. Biobank survey from 2006 to 2010, with 16.2 percent reporting shift work.

Over a median follow-up period of 9.06 years, the findings revealed that 2.3 per cent of workers developed depression and 1.7 per cent developed anxiety.

Those involved in shift work, or shift workers, had an increased risk of depression and anxiety (with hazard ratios of 1.22 and 1.16, respectively) after adjusting for other factors. The risk was positively associated with the frequency of shifts.

The distinction between night shifts and non-night shifts among shift workers did not show a significant difference.

Interestingly, the dose-association analysis demonstrated a negative connection between years of shift work and the risk of depression and anxiety.

The study also identified potentially changeable factors such as smoking, sedentary behavior, body mass index, and sleep duration, which collectively accounted for 31.3 per cent of the link between shift work and depression, and 21.2 per cent of the link between shift work and anxiety.

The authors emphasized that the study highlights the need to recognize shift work as a potential workplace hazard and underscores the urgency for creating public health interventions aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles to enhance the mental well-being of shift workers.

Related: US approves postpartum depression pill

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