Breaking The Workaholic Syndrome

Onyeka Ibeanusi  | Tuesday, 1 July 2014 | 674 Total Views


The idea of work varies from person to person. Some people spend their whole life climbing the corporate ladder while some others build credible businesses. With the high demand for material things imposed on the human mind by the modern world, there is this false belief that the more you work, the more wealth you pile, the happier you will be. Hardwork in itself is a very honourable ideal that must be encouraged and commended but when you start doing it at the deteriment of your health, family, peace, leisure and all other aspects of your life, then you need a rethink.

Are you the type that feels the day of rest is far from reality? There is always one more email to be sent, one more voice mail to be answered, one more trip to be made on Sunday. If you are also alien to terms like weekends, family and holidays, then you might be suffering from the workaholic syndrome without knowing it. 

You may think that long work hours, round the clock availability via gadgets, greed to achieve more and more and no breaks are a part and parcel of life of a successful worker, but in reality it's a lie. You could be living in denial, or from the fear of reality. If you have read the Bible, then you would know even God rested on the seventh day. 

According to Dr Pulkit Sharma, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytical Therapist at Imago-Centre for Self, the workaholic syndrome is a condition, which is manifested by underlying strenuous emotional and psychological issues.


Common signs and symptoms of workaholic syndrome are:

a) Neglect of personal life, relationships, leisure and sleep

b) Difficulty in relaxing

c) Feelings of sadness and anxiety when not working

d) A sense of huge relief when resuming work

e) When away from work, a sense of panic that you will miss something important

f) Inability to take a break or vacation

g) Keeping the gadgets close 24×7 so that you don’t miss anything

While doing in-depth psychological analysis, Dr Sharma has found out that people suffering from workaholic syndrome suffer from two core fears -


A majority of these people have a poor sense of personal worth. They use achievement as a drug to feel good about themselves. They fear even the smallest of failures and this makes them workaholic.


Subconsciously, quite a few workaholic people are not comfortable with the core of their self. They struggle from complexes and difficult emotions and use excessive work as a means to keep their mind busy.

People who suffer from this syndrome find weekends difficult. They tend to feel empty, irritable and depressed and find ways to return back to work somehow. This leads to fights between them and their close ones. If not working, they stay close to work via the gadgets on the weekend. While all work and no play will seem to be near perfect in the short run. In the long-term, it ruins physical and psychological health. The person becomes prone to diseases and disorders including – hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, GERD, spondylitis, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, marital conflict, family disharmony and aggression.

Practical ways to deal with workaholic syndrome are:

a) Become self-aware: Everyone has unique reasons for being workaholic. You need to first understand why work is becoming so important for you? Are you trying to hide a weak and a shameful self? Are you running away from negative feelings?

b) Don’t run from negativity: You need to face your negative and painful emotions. Give yourself space and opportunity to feel sad, angry and low. Often when we face these feelings in a calm manner, they fade away and we feel very strong.   

c) Go slow: If you are a workaholic, change cannot happen instantly. If you cut down your addiction quickly, you get depressed because your body and mind are dependent on work. Therefore, gradually reduce your involvement with work while thinking of alternatives.  

d) Balance: Maintain a balanced life time-table. Keep space for work, hobbies, relationships and your own self.

Follow these tips to live a fulfilling all-rounded life. We have only one life and it’s too short to be spent only working.