Do you spend most of your time working, do you usually take your work home? , Do you get frequent phone calls about work things outside office hours, Do you continuously complain about lack of time, Are your conversations almost always about work?

If you have answered yes to these questions, it is quite possible that you have become a workaholic.

What’s a workaholic?

Wayne Oates proposed the term workaholi c to designate the person with work dependency. For Oates, his own relationship with work was like the one alcoholics have with drinking: a continuous and uncontrollable need to work that ends up affecting health, well-being and relationships with the environment .


Workaholism is defined as the excessive involvement of a person in his or her work activity, an irresistible urge to work constantly and the almost complete abandonment of leisure activities.

Common symptoms of workaholism

Workaholics have a strong need to work and when they don’t, they experience anxiety, depression or irritability. For a workaholic, work is the center of her life, with everything else, including family or friends, taking a back seat.

They often take home work, don’t switch off at the weekend and take their laptop with them on holiday to continue working.

Workaholic profile

The most characteristic profile of the workaholic is:

  • A special work attitude . He makes great efforts to perform at his best and always tries to increase his achievements. He does not usually reject new projects, clients or work responsibilities.
  • Excessive dedication of time and effort . You usually work more than 45 hours a week, most days, usually taking your work home with you.
  • .

  • A compulsive and involuntary disorder to continue working . He works on weekends, when he is on holiday or even when he is ill, and if he cannot work he becomes nervous or irritable.
  • General disinterest in any other activity than strictly labour activities . Your main topic of conversation is work, your leisure time is devoted to work, and if you are doing another activity you are thinking about the work you have to do.

Physical and mental health effects and consequences

According to studies by the World Health Organization (WHO), work addiction can lead to mental and physical disorder . Although it is observed in both genders, it mostly affects male professionals between 35 and 50 years old, in liberal professions or middle management: executives, doctors, journalists, lawyers, politicians, etc. These people focus their lives on their work and are usually not aware of the problem, with their family or social environment suffering the consequences.

The problems experienced by the person addicted to work are similar to those of other addictions, being normally affected their relationships inside and outside the work environment, which results in family and social conflicts and even in a low work performance. In addition, conflicts tend to be generated in the work environment itself, since they are usually perfectionists who make great demands on themselves, as well as on others.

The most common consequences are: anxiety, stress, insomnia or sleep disturbances, depression, problems in couple or family relationships, tendency to social isolation, inability to relax, tiredness, irritability, and health problems such as muscle tension, cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, gastric problems, ulcers, etc. In addition, abusive consumption of alcohol, stimulant substances and tobacco is often observed.

The cause is in the culture

The high value given by our society to success and high professional performance, make the social and working environments conducive to the development of workaholics. The addiction to work, like any other addictive behavior, is negative for the subject because it makes him dependent on a situation that harms his psychophysiological health, and alters his social and work environment.

Bibliographic references:

  • Alonso-Fernandez F. (2003) La addicción al trabajo (Work Addiction). In Las nuevas adicciones. Madrid: TEA ediciones, 225-261.
  • Moreno, B., Gálvez, M., Garrosa, H. & Rodríguez, R. (2005). Workplace addiction. Behavioral psychology, 13(3), 417-428.
  • Salanova, M., Del Líbano, M., Llorens, S., Schaufeli, W.B. & Fidalgo, M. (2008). Workplace addiction. National Institute of Safety and Hygiene at Work.