Revealed: the jobs that are most often linked to depression

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Kayleigh Dray
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Stress, unpredictable hours, little to no control over your own targets; all things often to blame when a job makes you miserable.

However some jobs in particular are more likely to make you prone to depression than others – and they might not be the ones you expect.

In a recent study, researchers explored the links between depression and different sectors of work, evaluating 55 industries across a range of criteria, including psychological distress, work stress, and physical activity in the workplace.

The results were surprising.

Writing in their report, which was published on NCBI, researchers explained that people who work in “service industries which require frequent or complex interactions with the public or clients” are more likely to have symptoms of depression.

“This supports the theory that the stress of emotional labour could contribute to depression,” they added.

For Arlie Hochschild – author of 1983’s The Managed Heart – emotional labour is “the work done with feelings, as part of paid employment”.

“People in many of the personal service occupations – such as airline stewardesses, waitresses, bartenders, and such like – are paid to 'sell their emotions',” he insists.

The theory of emotional labour being linked to depression is not necessarily a new one.

In 2014, data collected in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology unveiled the 17 jobs which are most often linked to depression.

Industries which require workers to regularly interact with clients or members of the public featured heavily on the list, with estate agents, social workers, housekeepers, and retail workers all making an appearance.

The full list of the most depression-prone jobs includes:

  1. Transportation driver
  2. Estate agent
  3. Social worker
  4. Manufacturer
  5. Personal services
  6. Legal services
  7. Housekeeper
  8. Membership organisations
  9. Security and commodities brokers
  10. Printing and publishing
  11. Agricultural services
  12. Retail
  13. Electric, gas, and sanitary
  14. Special trade contractors
  15. Petroleum and coal
  16. General merchandise retail
  17. Auto repair

The jobs which require workers to put on a show – to smile, to make small talk, and to massage the egos of others on a regular basis – are the most damaging to mental health.

However scientists have suggested that more research needs to be conducted into jobs from other sectors, to see the role that work-related stress, as well as lengthened periods of physical inactivity, could also be contributors to depression.

Images: iStock


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.