10 Careers With High Rates of Depression
Jobs and depression
Some jobs are more depression-prone than others.
Here are 10 fields (out of 21 major job categories) in which full-time workers are most likely to report an episode of major depression in a given year. But if you want to be a nurse (No. 4), it doesn’t mean you should pick another profession.
“There are certain aspects of any job that can contribute to or exacerbate depression,” says Deborah Legge, PhD, a licensed mental health counselor in Buffalo. "Folks with the high-stress jobs have a greater chance of managing it if they take care of themselves and get the help they need.”
Nursing home/child-care workers
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
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 motivationwhen you have to be on, it is difficult.”
“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.”
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
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.”
In many areas, they learn to do a lot with a little.
“There are pressures from many different audiencesthe 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
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
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
“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.”
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.