Your job may increase your risk of depression. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given that most of the stress people experience comes from work. Factors like stress, dangerous or toxic work environment, lack of social support, irregular hours, long hours, too little sleep, and lack of control are all major contributors to depression.
Some jobs are infamous for high levels of depression. Healthcare workers, for example, often get depressed and struggle with substance use. The hours are often erratic, there’s ever more bureaucracy, and despite your best efforts, you may see a lot of patients die. Lawyers have a high rates of depression, substance use, and suicide too. In addition to long hours and high-stakes work, they may have to represent people they don’t like for doing nasty things. People in physically demanding or dangerous jobs seem to be at particularly high risk of suicide. Farmers, miners, fisherman, lumberers, and construction workers often work in dangerous, unpredictable, and isolated conditions.
IT workers also have a high rate of depression. Although IT isn’t a job you might normally think of as having a high risk of depression, it meets many of the criteria–the hours are often long, there is a lot of pressure to solve technical problems quickly, and you never know when something is going to break and need attention at odd hours.
IT companies, especially the giants like Google and Facebook, are known for trying to create a positive work environment and support work/life balance. Despite those efforts by many companies, depression is common among IT workers. A survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous workplace chat app, found that about 40 percent of IT workers believed they were depressed. The highest rates of depression were at Amazon, with more than 43 percent, Microsoft, with more than 41 percent, and Intel, with more than 38 percent. Apple and Google had the lowest rates of depression, with 30 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
It’s worth noting that self-reported feelings of depression may not correspond to rates of major depression diagnosed by a doctor or psychologist. Not everyone is familiar with the diagnostic criteria for depression and self-reported depression may simply mean they are feeling stressed and unhappy with their work. Even so, feeling stuck, tired, and chronically stressed are major risk factors for developing depression, especially among anyone with a genetic predisposition.
In the Blind survey, employees reported that in addition to community support, management support was most helpful in overcoming feelings of depression. Employees who felt like they could communicate with their managers about their depression missed fewer days of work. On the other hand, workplaces with a culture of avoidance have employees that miss more work and are less productive when they return.
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