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Workaholics Risk Dementia, Study Finds

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Posted on Feb 25, 2009
Flickr / _Patola_

Those who have lost their jobs can take solace in the fact that although working may put food on the table, it can also break your brain. A study has found that busy bees who labor more than 55 hours a week develop problems with reasoning, memory and vocabulary, and the problems get worse the more they work.


Lead researcher Dr Marianna Virtanen, from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said: “The disadvantages of overtime work should be taken seriously.”

It is not known why working long hours might have an adverse effect on the brain.

However, the researchers say key factors could include increased sleeping problems, depression, an unhealthy lifestyle and a raised risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly linked to stress.

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By Crystal Clear, March 1, 2009 at 4:32 am Link to this comment
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By Inherit The Wind, February 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment

Nah, I think Madoff is, like Stanford, just a friggin’ thief, another Carlo Ponzi, who doesn’t understand the fundamental difference between MAKING money, and just getting it from someone else’s work.

The thing is, these guys really aren’t any different than the @$$#oles who over-reached at AIG, Lehman, CITIcorps, and the other banks, ALL of whom knew better, but just figured they’d keep passing the buck on risk.

No different than Madoff and Stanford—just better at avoiding being criminally liable. 

Mad Magazine did a spoof on “Run For Your Life” about 40-45 years ago (a show about a guy with a year to live).  How does he fund it? In the Mad spoof he fills up one credit card, then pays it off with another, then pays THAT off with another.  Each card thinks he’s a good risk because he pays them off but the debt gets bigger and bigger—Sound familiar?

Still, in “The Life of Your Run” he figures he’s going to die long before the final bill comes due…...

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By cyrena, February 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment

“However, the researchers say key factors could include increased sleeping problems, depression, an unhealthy lifestyle and a raised risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly linked to stress.
The civil servants who took part in the study took five different tests of their mental function, once between 1997 and 1999, and again between 2002 and 2004.

Those doing the most overtime recorded lower scores in two of the five tests, assessing reasoning and vocabulary.

Cumulative effect
The effects were cumulative, the longer the working week was the worse the test results were.

Employees with long working hours also had shorter sleeping hours, reported more symptoms of depression and used more alcohol than those with normal working hours.”
I believe this. I could have been in either of those test groups. But, even while I was working those long hours, I KNEW it was kicking my ass, and that I could not sustain it, so I never tried. I made sure I took frequent ‘mental health’ breaks.

The Europeans are mostly smart enough to do that. They don’t so much overwork themselves like Americans have for the past several decades.

Meantime, I’d be interested in knowing what kind of ‘work’ these test subjects were involved in, because that has everything to do with it as well, and has to do with the level of stress inherent in the workplace environment.

That said Inherit, I did get your ‘connection’ to those young attorneys and other professionals who have to devote so much time at the beginning of their careers. So, you’re saying they’re now crazy, eh? wink You’re probably right. If not demented, at least depressed and tired as hell. Ya reckon that’s what happened with Madoff? He’s damn sure needing some sort of an excuse at this point.

Anyway, I’m glad I never did that, but it has taken many other minds who long ago committed themselves to…..”The Firm”.  There’s no way I would have lasted in the standard “Firm”. In fact, it’s pretty amazing that I ‘slipped the ropes’ of my own former corporate slave masters as often and as long as I did. (always keeping at least one foot in Indian Land) Still, even that – just maneuvering the maze is enough to really wear one out, meaning that mental health breaks should be part of the overall trip plan.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 27, 2009 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment

Here’s a different POV: Most young doctors and lawyers starting out are forced to work 80 or more hours a week, usually for years on end…..either as interns and residents, or as associates trying to make partner.

And this study claims continually exceeding 55 hours per week leads to dementia.

Anybody else see a connection here?

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By Lazy susan, February 26, 2009 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment
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So offer an unemployed person your job; or better yet tell your employer that you want time to “assess your dire situation,” and you could only do so, if your employer finds someone unemployed to share your hours and paycheck.

p.s. I’m not being sarcastic.

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By Outraged, February 26, 2009 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

Re: Susan

I’m not quite sure if you were using sarcasm or supposed logic in your original comment, however reducing work hours would not necessarily make you homeless…?

With so many unemployed people wanting jobs, why are employers overworking some, yet denying others employment?  I see this happening where I live, so what’s the deal?

I guesstimate that this would cause tensions between the over-worked and the under-worked, and is PURPOSEFULLY instituted by crooked employers.

I further propose that by keeping a person overworked and EXHAUSTED it would leave little time for that worker to access their dire situation and the long range implications of their predicament.

It’s a scam.

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By Lazy susan, February 26, 2009 at 5:05 am Link to this comment
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MBSS—You didn’t read the last sentence—If you’re homeless for too long you’re bound to go crazy. However, you might prefer the ascetic existence of schlepping a huge black garbage bag with your worldly possessions from one homeless shelter to another.

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By M.B.S.S., February 26, 2009 at 1:36 am Link to this comment

homeless and lucid?

you mean like buddha or jesus? ill take that every time.

crazy and comfortable is the american sickness.  and let me tell you, its a very UNcomfortable disease;  for everyone, not just the carriers.

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By Shift, February 25, 2009 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

I wonder what Bush’s excuse was?

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By Lazy susan, February 25, 2009 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment
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Pick your poison dementia or bankruptcy?  Better to be crazy and comfortable than homeless and lucid.  Besides, if you’re homeless for too long, you’re bound to go crazy.

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