How Lifestyle Factors Influence Depression and Anxiety Associated with Shift Work


A new study finds a strong link between shift work and anxiety and depression. However, the study also showed that shift workers with healthier lifestyles were less likely to experience poor mental health.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, was conducted by scientists from the Department of Social Medicine and Health Management at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Through their investigation, the researchers aimed to better understand the connection between shift work and anxiety and depression as well as whether lifestyle factors mediated the associations.

Involved in the study were 175,543 employed or self-employed workers who had participated in the UK Biobank baseline survey from 2006 to 2010. Depression and anxiety were identified based on electronic health records. In addition, researchers analyzed the participants’ lifestyle factors, including their smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, dietary characteristics, sleep duration, sedentary time, and body mass index (BMI).

According to the study, the data showed a strong relationship between anxiety and depression, and shift work. Researchers also found that lifestyle factors partially mediated the associations. Together, the mediators explained 31.3 percent of the association between shift work and depression and 21.2 percent of the association between shift work and anxiety. Researchers found no significant differences between night and non-night shifts. The primary potentially modifiable mediators identified were smoking, sedentary time, BMI, and sleep duration.

These results indicate that shift work is linked to a high risk of anxiety and depression. The study's authors said that the findings suggest that shift work is an occupational hazard and highlight the need for public health interventions that promote healthy lifestyle habits aimed at shift workers.