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“I Hate My Job” Do you? Professions most, and least, fraught with depression

By HBC Protocols October 22, 2007 0 comments

A Comical Cafe Barrista’s story  AKa “And let’s not forget how friggin’ hard it is to get those stupid lids on the cold drinks cups.”

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently released a report that tracked major depressive episodes in full-time employees. They found that professions most fraught with depression are in the personal care and service sector. The least,  4.3 %, are Engineers, architectects and surveyors. A major depressive episode is defined as a minimum of a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, including problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image. Jobs in food service or require people to change diapers are also tied to depression. 1.3 billion days of work is lost each year to mental disorders related to depression. It accounts for about 1/3 of all sick days. Ronald C. Kessler from Harvard Medical School stated “If we treated the mental disorders we could wipe out a lot of the impairment.” Depression accounted for 387 million sick days each year.

This work place phenomena is not isolated to the United States. A recent Australian study of 3750 carers (and relatives) of a detailed questionnaire, showed that people who look after their frail, disabled or mentally ill people (or relatives) also suffer “extraordinary” rates of depression. They experience the lowest level of wellbeing of any group in Australian society. The Deakin University study revealed 56 per cent of carers would be classified as moderately depressed compared with 6 per cent of the general population. Almost 40 per cent of the carers were estimated to fall in the “severe” to “extremely severe” range of depression. The average carer also experienced moderate levels of stress. Adding to the problem is the low wage scale. The level of wellbeing was the lowest ever measured for any group in 17 wellbeing surveys since 2001.

There are a variety of factors that can influence a person’s level of job satisfaction; some of these factors include the level of pay and benefits, the perceived fairness of the promotion system within a company, the quality of the working conditions, leadership and social relationships, and the job itself (the variety of tasks involved, the interest and challenge the job generates, and the clarity of the job description/requirements).

The happier people are within their job, the more satisfied they are said to be. Job satisfaction is not the same as motivation, although it is clearly linked. Job design aims to enhance job satisfaction and performance, methods include job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment. Other influences on satisfaction include the management style and culture, employee involvement, empowerment and autonomous work groups. Job satisfaction is a very important attribute which is frequently measured by organisations. The most common way of measurement is the use of rating scales where employees report their reactions to their jobs. Questions relate to rate of pay, work responsibilities, variety of tasks, promotional opportunities the work itself and co-workers. Some questioners ask yes or no questions while others ask to rate satisfaction on 1-5 scale (where 1 represents “not at all satisfied” and 5 represents “extremely satisfied”).

Take a job satisfaction test.  http://www.humanlinks.com/orgsn/job_satisfaction.htm

Strategies to improve your job satisfaction

Depending on the underlying cause of your dissatisfaction, there may be several ways to increase your job satisfaction.

Set new challenges
If you’re stuck in a job because of lack of education or a downturn in the economy, it doesn’t mean your work has to become drudgery. With a little imagination, you can create new challenges and make the best of the job you have. Here are some ideas that may help.

  • Improve your job skills. Imagining yourself in your dream job, you might see yourself as an excellent project manager — a confident communicator and a highly organized person. Why not work on these skills in your present job?
  • Develop your own project. Take on a project that can motivate you and give you a sense of control. Start small, such as organizing a work-related celebration, before moving on to larger goals. Working on something you care about can boost your confidence.
  • Mentor a co-worker. Once you’ve mastered a job, you may find it becoming routine. Helping a new co-worker or an intern advance his or her skills can often restore the challenge and the satisfaction you desire.

Beat the boredom
Does your job seem boring sometimes? Do you run out of things to do? If so, your abilities may not match your responsibilities. Here are some suggestions:

  • Break up the monotony. Take advantage of your work breaks. Read. Listen to music. Go for a walk. Write a letter.
  • Cross-training. Does your work consist of repetitive tasks, such as entering data into a database or working on an assembly line? Talk with your boss about training for a different task to combat boredom. Once you’ve completed the training, you can switch back and forth.
  • Volunteer for something different. If you hear that your company is launching a new project, volunteer for the work team.
  • Ask for a new challenge. If you’re comfortable doing so, tell your supervisor you’re a little bored with what you’re doing and would like a new challenge.

Keep in mind that boredom can be deadly if your job entails working with machinery or caring for people. If your mind wanders to the point that you put your life or the lives of others in jeopardy, take action. Talk to your supervisor about new challenges you can take on or seek a new position.

Stay positive
Use positive thinking to reframe your thoughts about your job. Changing your attitude about work won’t necessarily happen overnight. But if you’re alert to ways your view of work brings you down, you can improve your job satisfaction. Try these techniques:

  • Stop negative thoughts. Pay attention to the messages you give yourself. When you catch yourself thinking your job is terrible, stop the thought in its tracks.
  • Put things in perspective. Remember, everyone encounters good days and bad days on the job.
  • Look for the silver lining. “Reframing” can help you find the good in a bad situation. For example, you receive a less than perfect performance appraisal and your boss warns you to improve or move to another job. Instead of taking it personally or looking for another job right away, look for the silver lining. Depending on where you work, the silver lining may be attending continuing education classes, working closely with a performance coach and having the satisfaction of showing your boss you’re capable of change.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Failure is one of the greatest learning tools, but many people let failure defeat them. When you make a mistake at work, learn from it and try again.
  • Be grateful. Gratitude can help you focus on what’s positive about your job. Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for at work today?” If it’s only that you’re having lunch with a trusted co-worker, that’s OK. But find at least one thing you’re grateful for and savor it.

Whether your work is a job, a career or a calling, you can take steps to restore meaning to your job. Make the best of difficult work situations by being positive. Doing so will help you manage your stress and experience the rewards of your profession.

US Government study on depression among adults

employed full-time, by occupational category

Depression can seriously impact a person’s ability to perform routine activities at work. It negatively affects U.S. industry through lost productivity, employee absenteeism, and low morale.1,2 U.S. companies lose an estimated $30 to $44 billion dollars per year3,4 because of employee depression. Research shows that the rate of depression varies by occupation and industry.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) includes questions for adults aged 18 or older to assess lifetime and past year major depressive episode (MDE).5 In NSDUH, MDE is defined using the diagnostic criteria set forth in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV),6 which specifies a period of 2 weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, including problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.7 NSDUH also asks respondents about their current employment situation and the type of occupation and industry in which they work. NSDUH defines full-time employed respondents as those who usually work 35 or more hours per week and who worked in the past week or had a job despite not working in the past week.

This issue of The NSDUH Report uses data from the combined 2004 to 2006 surveys to present estimates of past year MDE among full-time workers aged 18 to 64 by occupational category.


MDE, by Employment Status


Combined data from 2004 to 2006 indicate that the prevalence of past year MDE among adults aged 18 to 64 was higher among the unemployed and those of “Other” employment status than among persons employed part time or full time (Table 1). Among adults aged 18 to 64, an estimated 12.7 percent of those who were unemployed and 12.7 percent of those in the “Other” group experienced an MDE in the past year compared with 9.3 percent of those employed part time and 7.0 percent of those employed full time.

Table 1. Past Year Major Depressive Episode (MDE) among Persons Aged 18 to 64, by Employment Status: 2004-2006 Combined
Employment Status Percent Number in Thousands
Total   8.6 15,531
Full-Time   7.0   8,143
Part-Time   9.3   2,277
Unemployed 12.7      911
Other* 12.7   4,200
Source: SAMHSA, 2004, 2005, and 2006 NSDUHs.

Reflecting the fact that over half of the adult population (64.3 percent) were employed full time, a majority of those who experienced an MDE in the past year also were employed full time. From 2004 to 2006, over half of all persons aged 18 to 64 who experienced a past year MDE (52.4 percent) were employed full time.


MDE, by Occupational Category


Among the 21 major occupational categories, the highest rates of past year MDE among full-time workers aged 18 to 64 were found in the personal care and service occupations (10.8 percent) and the food preparation and serving related occupations (10.3 percent) (Figure 1). The occupational categories with the lowest rates of past year MDE were engineering, architecture, and surveying (4.3 percent); life, physical, and social science (4.4 percent); and installation, maintenance, and repair (4.4 percent).

Figure 1. Past Year Major Depressive Episode (MDE) among Full-Time Workers Aged 18 to 64, by Occupational **: 2004-2006 Combined
This figure is a horizontal bar graph comparing past year major depressive episode (MDE) among full-time workers aged 18 to 64, by occupational categories**: 2004-2006 combined.

 

Figure 1 Table. Past Year Major Depressive Episode (MDE) among Full-Time Workers Aged 18 to 64, by Occupational **: 2004-2006 Combined
Occupational Percent
Personal Care and Service 10.8%
Food Preparation and Serving Related 10.3%
Community and Social Services   9.6%
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical   9.6%
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media   9.1%
Education, Training, and Library   8.7%
Office and Administrative Support   8.1%
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance   7.3%
Financial   6.7%
Sales and Related   6.7%
Legal   6.4%
Transportation and Material Moving   6.4%
Mathematical and Computer Scientists   6.2%
Production   5.9%
Management   5.8%
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry   5.6%
Protective Service   5.5%
Construction and Extraction   4.8%
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair   4.4%
Life, Physical, and Social Science   4.4%
Engineering, Architecture, and Surveyors   4.3%
Source: SAMHSA, 2004, 2005, and 2006 NSDUHs.

 


MDE, by Demographic Characteristics and Occupational Category


Among full-time workers aged 18 to 64, females were more likely than males to have a past year MDE (10.1 vs. 4.7 percent). The highest rates of past year MDE among female full-time workers aged 18 to 64 were found in the food preparation and serving related occupations (14.8 percent) and community and social service occupations (13.3 percent) (Table 2). The highest rates of past year MDE among male full-time workers aged 18 to 64 were found in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (6.7 percent). The lowest rates of past year MDE among both males and females were found in life, physical, and social science occupations (2.3 percent for males and 7.2 percent for females).

Table 2. Past Year Major Depressive Episode (MDE) among Full-time Workers Aged 18 to 64, by Demographic Characteristics and Occupational **: 2004-2006 Combined
Occupational Category Gender Age Group
Male Female 18 to 25 26 to 34 35 to 49 50 to 64
Personal Care and Service *** 10.3   9.8 10.5 12.2   9.7
Food Preparation and Serving Related   5.4 14.8 11.5   9.0 11.9   5.6
Community and Social Services   4.4 13.3 10.3 15.6   7.4   8.3
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical   6.0 10.7 11.9   9.3 11.3   6.3
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media   6.7 12.5   7.5 13.5   7.2   8.0
Education, Training, and Library   6.3   9.6   8.8   8.4 11.7   5.4
Office and Administrative Support   5.2   9.3 10.9   8.9   8.2   5.9
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance   4.5 11.8   7.2   5.0   9.7   5.3
Financial   5.5   7.9   8.7   7.9   3.8   9.8
Sales and Related   4.2 10.0 10.1   9.1   5.9   3.6
Legal   4.6   8.2 ***   6.0   6.3 ***
Transportation and Material Moving   5.8 10.6   8.1   6.7   5.4   6.7
Mathematical and Computer Scientists   4.6 10.4   8.2   7.7   6.7 ***
Production   4.9   8.5   7.3   7.4   6.0   3.7
Management   3.3   9.5 10.2   7.4   5.4   4.8
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry   5.4 *** 11.0 ***   2.6 ***
Protective Service   3.5 ***   5.7   2.1   6.5 ***
Construction and Extraction   4.5 ***   4.5   4.7   5.3   4.0
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair   4.3 ***   5.1   3.8   6.3 ***
Life, Physical, and Social Science   2.3   7.2   4.3   4.9   6.1 ***
Engineering, Architecture, and Surveyors   3.3 11.1   6.9   2.5   4.5   4.6
Source: SAMHSA, 2004, 2005, and 2006 NSDUHs.

Full-time workers aged 18 to 25 were more likely to have a past year MDE than full-time workers in all other age groups (8.9 percent for those aged 18 to 25; 7.6 percent for those aged 26 to 34; 7.2 for those aged 35 to 49; and 5.1 percent for those aged 50 to 64). Among full-time workers aged 18 to 25, the highest rates of past year MDE were found in the health care practitioners and technical occupations (11.9 percent) and the lowest in the life, physical, and social science occupations (4.3 percent).


End Notes


1 Druss, B. G., Rosenheck, R. A., & Sledge, W. H. (2000). Health and disability costs of depressive illness in a major U.S. corporation. American Journal of Psychiatry 157,1274-1278.
2 Kessler, R. C., Greenberg, P. E., Mickelson, K. D., Meneades, L. M., & Wang, P. S. (2001). The effects of chronic medical conditions on work loss and work cutback. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 43, 218-225.
3 Elinson, L., Houck, P., Marcus, S. C., & Pincus, H. A. (2004). Depression and the ability to work. Psychiatric Services, 55, 29-34.
4 Stewart, W. F., Ricci, J. A., Chee, E., Hahn, S. R., & Morganstein, D. (2003). Cost of lost productive work time among U.S. workers with depression. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 3135-3144.
5 A split-sample design was implemented for adults in 2004. Adult respondents in sample A received the full module of mental health questions as administered in prior years of the survey (including the K6 scale), but did not receive the new depression module. Adult respondents in sample B received the new depression module, but only received the K6 questions from the previous mental health module. Separate analysis weights were constructed for each subsample. In 2005 and 2006, all adults were administered the depression module.
6 American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
7 In assessing MDE, no exclusions were made for MDE caused by medical illness, bereavement, or substance use disorders.


Table and Figure Notes


* Retired persons, disabled persons, homemakers, students, or other persons not in the labor force are included in the “Other” employment category.

** Respondents with unknown MDE status or Occupation Classification are excluded from the analysis. Occupations were coded using the 2000 Standard Occupational Classification released by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Statistics (2000), which categorizes all occupations into 21 major groups. Within these major groups are 96 minor groups, 449 broad occupations, and 821 detailed occupations. Occupations with similar skills or work activities are grouped at each of the four levels of hierarchy to facilitate comparisons.

*** Data suppressed because of low precision.

The NSDUH Report is published periodically by the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA. Additional copies of this report or other reports from the Office of Applied Studies are available online: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov. Citation of the source is appreciated. For questions about this report, please e-mail: shortreports@samhsa.hhs.gov.

 

This is the page footer. 

 

SAMHSA, an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services, is the Federal Government’s lead agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment, and mental health services in the United States.


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