Working weekends may make you depressed, especially if you are a man

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If you're an analyst or associate working for an investment bank this seem like an unreasonable suggestion, but you probably don't want to work weekends. Especially if you are also male.

A new study by researchers at University College London, Oregon State University, and Queen Mary University of London found that weekend work is categorically bad for male mental health. However, women seem able to tolerate weekend work up to a point. 

The researchers looked at the UK Household Longitudinal Study, of 11,215 men and 12,188 women in employment or self-employment. They found that although two thirds of men work some weekends, even occasional weekend work is correlated with male depression.

By comparison, the researchers found that women only become more depressed if they work every weekend. - Working the occasional weekend isn't as inimical to the female psyche as to the male one.

This doesn't mean, however, that women are mentally unafflicted by long hours. The study also found that women working over 55 hours a week had more depressive symptoms than women working 35 to 40 hours a week. By comparison, men who worked over 55 hours a week were no more depressed than those working 41 to 54 hour weeks. 

The study wasn't restricted to highly paid people working in investment banks, so the researchers suggest their findings might be as much to do with psycho-social factors as anything else (eg. weekend working might be associated with a loss of status if you're male). However, their findings do seem to suggest that banks who are trying to nurture the mental well-being of employees should limit working hours to less than 55 (at least for women), and should encourage employees to put in extra hours during Monday to Friday rather than at weekends. - Something which has allegedly been happening anyway under 'protected weekend' rules.

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