The cause of work addiction often stems back to childhood and is usually linked to low self-esteem. There may have been a constant need to prove oneself in order to get attention or high-achieving behaviours became a way of feeling better. Childhood trauma and prolonged stress can also be a common feature. This means that when seeking treatment it is not just about working with the addiction but also about addressing what is causing it and finding alternative ways of coping and managing.
Researchers have identified three specific stages to work addiction:
Early Stage: This stage is where the individual starts to work longer hours and take on extra jobs and responsibilities even if this means no extra pay. They will always be too busy to take time off from work.
Middle Stage: This stage is where the individual is becoming work dependent. He/she may have difficulty switching off from work so they remain emotionally attached. Personal relationships may become more strained or distant. Physical health can begin to suffer due to poor sleep or due to weight gain or loss.
Late Stage: This stage is where the work addict will experience more serious physical and mental health side effects. The good news is that with professional support the work addict can find alternative ways of coping and managing that are less detrimental to their mental and physical wellbeing.
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