10 Careers With High Rates of Depression
Jobs and depression
Are you feeling jittery on the job?
Nursing home/child-care workers
Personal-care providers top the list, with nearly 11% of people in this field reporting a bout of major depression. (The rate is 13% in the unemployed; 7% in the general population.)
A typical day can include feeding, bathing, and caring for others who are “often incapable of expressing gratitude or appreciation…because they are too ill or too young or they just aren’t in the habit of it,” says Christopher Willard, clinical psychologist at Tufts University and author of Child’s Mind.
“It is stressful, seeing people sick and not getting a lot of positive reinforcement.”
Food service staff
Ranking just below professional-care workers are the people who are serving the food at your favorite local digs. Wait staff often get low pay and can have exhausting jobs with numerous people telling them what to do each day.
While 10% of workers in general reported an episode of major depression in the past year, almost 15% of women in this field did so.
“This is often a very thankless job,” Legge says. “People can be really rude and there is a lot of physical exertion. When people are depressed, it is hard to have energy and motivation—when you have to be on, it is difficult.”
It’s probably not a huge surprise to find social workers near the top of this list. Dealing with abused children or families on the brink of every imaginable crisis—combined with bureaucratic red tape—can make for a demanding, stressful job that’s often 24-7.
“There can be a culture that says that to do a good job, you have to work really hard and often make sacrifices,” Willard says.
“Because social workers work with people who are so needy, it can be hard to not sacrifice too much to the job. I see that happen a lot with social workers and other caring professions, and they get really burned out pretty quickly.”
This includes doctors, nurses, therapists, and other professions that attract people who might end up giving a lot without saving a little for themselves. Health-care workers can have long, irregular hours and days in which other people’s lives are literally in their hands.
In other words, the stress can be off the charts.
“Every day they are seeing sickness, trauma, and death and dealing with family members of patients,” Willard says. “It can shade one’s outlook on the whole that the world is a sadder place.”
Artists, entertainers, writers
These jobs can bring irregular paychecks, uncertain hours, and isolation.
Creative people may also have higher rates of mood disorders; about 9% reported an episode of major depression in the previous year.
In men, it’s the job category most likely to be associated with an episode of major depression (nearly 7% in full-time workers).
“One thing I see a lot in entertainers and artists is bipolar illness,” says Legge. “There could be undiagnosed or untreated mood disorders in people who are artistic…. Depression is not uncommon to those who are drawn to work in the arts, and then the lifestyle contributes to it.”
The demands on teachers seem to be constantly growing. Many work after school and then take work home.
In many areas, they learn to do a lot with a little.
“There are pressures from many different audiences—the kids, their parents, and the schools trying to meet standards, all (of which) have different demands,” Willard says. “This can make it difficult for teachers to do their thing and remember the reason they got started in the field.”
Administrative support staff
People in this field can suffer from a classic case of high demand, low control.
They are on the front line, taking orders from all directions. But they are also at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of control and “everything filters down,” according to Legge.
They can have unpredictable days and may not be acknowledged for all of the work that they do to make life easier for everyone else.
Maintenance and grounds workers
How would you like to be called on only when something goes wrong? That’s essentially what maintenance people deal with each day.
They also have to work odd hours, seasonal or varied schedules, and frequent night shifts. They are often paid little for a tough job that can include cleaning up other people’s messes.
“There is also higher turnover. In terms of co-workers, they are often isolated, and it can be dangerous work,” Willard says.
Financial advisors and accountants
Stress. Stress. Stress. Most people don’t like dealing with their own retirement savings. So can you imagine handling thousands or millions of dollars for other people?
“There is so much responsibility for other people’s finances and no control of the market,” Legge says. “There is guilt involved, and when (clients) are losing money, they probably have people screaming at them with regularity.”
People who work in sales are No. 10 on the list, though there are a whole host of reasons why the job could contribute to depression.
Many salespeople work on commission, meaning you never know exactly when your next paycheck is coming. They may travel, and have to spend time away from home, family, and friends.
If they work independently, benefits may also be limited.
“This uncertainty of income, tremendous pressure for results, and long hours” can make for a high-stress occupation, Legge says.