Work is essential for our well-being, and for many of us, integral to our identity. We can suffer profound emotional distress when we lose a job or cannot work. For Workaholics, they work to the exclusion of their families, relationships, friendships, interests, even physical health. Workaholics spend a great deal of time on work-related activities, they are preoccupied with work - often checking emails or documents - at weekends or holidays. Work becomes the single most important activity in that person's life.
Workaholic behaviour is often praised in western culture. Yet there is a significant difference between being engaged at work and being a addicted to it. While the former is characterised by hard work, because the worker is passionate about the job, the latter is often motivated by negative feelings like guilt and compulsion.
Workaholics will often experience "burn out", and certainly suffer with other disorders, most commonly alcoholism, drug and prescription drug addiction, but also depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Psychotherapy can help clients look at underlying issues which underpin a compulsive relationship with work. Sometimes, therapy needs to support individuals with secondary addictions or compulsive behaviours, as well as practical boundary setting in their professional lives.