What is your ideal career? No matter what you end up doing, you need to hope that it is something that you are passionate about. Every job is going to have its tough days, but if you love what you do or know you’re making a difference, then you’ll hopefully be able to battle through them. What you decide to do as a career is going to be dependent on your personality, but more research is being done into finding out which careers are more prone to depression. Below we’ll cover 2 major studies, one done in Western Pennsylvania and one done by Health.com. Both studies looked at several industries and attempted to establish which career paths were most prone to depression.
Some of these are professions that are incredibly sought after, like doctors or lawyers, and others may surprise you, like the prevalence of depression in bus drivers.
There was also another study done which looked at the average rate of suicide and figured out which jobs had the highest rates. That too is covered below. The answers may surprise you, but one thing is clear, ending your education with a big ol’ mountain of debt is definitely not ideal.
That doesn’t mean that if you’re in this profession you’re depressed. In fact, if you love your job and it’s on this list, more power to you! But you’ll definitely agree as we outline some of the main reasons why these careers are as stressful as they are.
Do you have a friend that works in one of these career fields? Feel free to share the list on social media.
The first study we’re going to look at was done in 2014 and looked at 214,000 western Pennsylvanians. The study looked at 55 industries in order to try and get an assessment on what career choices led to depression.
How stressed out do you think your average teacher is? It may shock you that in contrast to other industries that were studied, teaching fell smack dab in the middle in terms of rates of depression. That being said, 10% of teachers stated they had battled depression so that is still not ideal! While it may not be one of the highest, depression in teachers is definitely well worth talking about.
For teaching, one of the main studies suggested that “that depression in teachers is not only a personal struggle but could potentially impact the learning experiences of students.”
It can be easy to see why teachers may be stressed. Sure, they get summers off, but they are often overworked during the year and underpaid for the amount of work they put in. You can hope you’re making a difference, but there are always going to be difficult kids as well that make you just want to scream. That being said, as you’re about to read, there are definitely jobs out there where you’re more likely to be depressed.
14. Legal Services
When it comes to defining legal services, it was determined that 13.44% of individuals in this career field have suffered from depression. Whether it’s lawyers, paralegals, judges or other positions, you can understand the high level of pressure that comes with working within the confines of the law. It also probably does not help that many law students become lawyers, but for several years, all that means is you’ve got a huge chunk of debt to try and whittle down. Not to mention that like doctors, this is one of those careers where people spend so many years trying to get their foot in the door. If they then realize they hate it, it can be incredibly damaging to one’s overall mindset.
13. Personal Services
Continuing with the WPen study, they found that people who work in the “personal services” area are also prone to suffer from depression. What do we mean when we talk about Personal Services? It was determined by a study that it included jobs like hairdressing and dry cleaning. It was reported that 14% people working in this industry suffer from depression.
I’ll be honest, I was a little bit taken aback by the fact that hairdressing fell so high on the list of depression. Perhaps it’s because you just have to deal with too many customers who absolutely lose it on you after you accidentally mess up their hair. Or maybe it’s the pressure to wake up every morning and know that you really shouldn’t have a bad hair day when your job is to make other people’s hair look better!
At least working in a dry cleaning may make a little more sense. After all, how stressed out do you get when you realize you may have ruined one of your favorite items? Now just imagine if your entire job was trying to save those items. Sure, you might save some, but those you don’t are going to be a lot more memorable. Especially when accompanied by a screaming customer!
12. Real Estate
When looking deeper at the WPen study, it was reported that roughly 15.66% of employees in the real estate industry suffer from depression. When you think real estate, you may immediately start to think about how unstable and confusing the housing market can be, so you can imagine that must run rampant on the psyche of someone who works in the real estate industry. You also have an incredibly high-pressure job and while you may make a few big sales and some fat commission, it is definitely stressful to have a job where you have less to fall back on. Plus, just imagine how depressing it would be to end up becoming homeless and then having to stare at all those homes?
11. Public Transit
When looking at the results of the Western Penn. study, the job with the highest level of depression was in the field of public transit. While they did not go into their reasoning as to why that is, we can definitely make a few guesses. Bus drivers, especially in Vancouver (where I’m from) are often put into stressful situations as they not only have to deal with traffic but also a bus full of annoyed passengers around them. Combined with the fact that your job is incredibly monotonous and runs the same route, you can see why it might be easier to fall into a depression.
You also don’t get the benefit of often interacting with coworkers and instead get to deal with the public who can be less than appreciative for your efforts. Let’s hope as the weather starts to get nicer, that bus drivers can start to enjoy driving around more!
10. Food Service Staff
Health.com also conducted a study in which they looked at 21 major job categories and established 10 major career choices that can be prone to depression. One of the most prominent was in the food service industry, with 10% of workers in food service reporting feeling depressed. That number jumps to 15% when asking female servers. It can be easy to see why when you consider the amount of abuse that waiters or busboys need to deal with because their customer is having a bad day. Not to mention you have a job where a large majority of your income is going to be coming from tips, which means even if you are having an awful day, you better keep smiling or you’re not going to get your 15%.
You also need to factor in that many people who are waiters or waitresses have not established their career yet, and that frustration may also play into their rates of depression. Those who are doing it for a career may also be less than pleased that this is where they can be expected to spend the next 10+ years.
Now I need to preface right from the start, that my amazing girlfriend is currently a licensed practical nurse and has high aspirations of going back and furthering her education. I get to see firsthand the positive impact that my girlfriend has on the world, but that doesn’t mean nursing isn’t a job that has a high rate of depression. When looking at 10 potential fields of study, Health.com found that nursing ranked the highest in terms of depression, with 11% of nurses saying they’ve battled at least one bout of major depression. When looking at why, Christopher Willard who is a clinical psychologist theorized that it may be because a typical day involves taking care of 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.”
8. Social Workers
As you’re going to read, jobs in which you are working to try and help those in need are not the easiest on you mentally. Social workers ranked high on the rate of depression, often because it is a job that requires you to be on call 24-7. Also, you may be helping children or youth that have often been abused or are going through unbelievable life circumstances, which can take an extreme toll on you over time.
In a study that was conducted in 1998 that was centered around social workers and the potential for burning out, it was determined that 48% of social work suffered from high levels of distress due to their job. While that study was done back in ’98, it was far from the last time burnouts have affected social workers. Part of burning out is suffering from compassion fatigue, which is defined as “the overall experience of emotional and physical fatigue that social service professionals experience due to chronic use of empathy when treating patients who are suffering in some way.” Often, social workers are not able to see their clients get better and that too can add to the overall strain of the profession.
Above you read about many jobs that deal with depression, but it is also crucial to look at which professions are leading to suicide, and that is what the next section will cover.
When you think of different career paths, farming might not be the first one that pops to your mind. Food is a pretty crucial staple of society though, so you better be damn thankful farmers still exist. Maybe give them a hug next time you see them, because it was reported that farmers are 1.32 times more likely to commit suicide when compared to other jobs. One of the main stresses of being a farmer has to be dealing with unpredictable weather, as well as the fact that you may be very isolated from other people, and that can get lonely.
You also cannot overlook the farmer’s usage of pesticides, and the impact that it has on depression. It was reported that using heavy doses of pesticides over a short amount of time can more than double the risk of depression.
6. Financial Services
One of the most stressful things to have to try and wrap your head around in society is making sure you can balance your finances properly. Now just imagine if your entire career was going to be based around helping other people try and figure out theirs. No thank you! Studies reported that people working in the financial industry are 1.51 times more likely to commit suicide in contrast to your average worker. This rate definitely got impacted because of the recession in the United States and the high amount of turnover that the financial industry has gone through in the last little while.
Not to mention that you’re not making money if the economy is in the tank, but you’ve probably cost people close to you tons of money as well after they followed your advice. Technically it’s still their fault, but are you going to be the type of person that doesn’t feel awful when you see so many people around you losing money?
You may think that being a veterinarian just means that you’re going to be able to sit and play with puppies all day, but that is far from the reality of the situation. In fact, in 2010, when a task force was put together to look at the mental health of Veterinarians, 19% had admitted to experiencing burnout and contemplating suicide. When a study was done in 2012, two thirds of active veterinarians admitted to having suffered from clinical depression. Another quarter of them admitted to contemplating suicide upon their graduation from veterinary school. Like many of the professions on this list, you can understand why school debt would weigh heavily on these prospective vets.
4. Police Officers
It’s crazy to think that when I was growing up, there may not have been a job that was held in more esteem than being a police officer. But in 2016, the public image of officers has changed, and while they still provide an incredible public service, holy smokes do they also get a ridiculous amount of hate and backlash (not to say it’s all undeserved). It was reported that officers often suffer from bouts of depression and are 1.54 times more likely to commit suicide in contrast to other professions. When looking at female officers, that rate increases to 2.03 times more likely.
In 2016, it was reported that roughly 102 officers committed suicide in 2015 (51 confirmed over the last six months of 2015). When the numbers were looked at closer in 2012 (a year that saw 126 suicides), it was reported that the average officer was a cop for sixteen years prior to committing suicide. As well as this, 91.5% of suicides occurred with a firearm (in contrast to the two you’ll read below) and the average age of suicide was 42 years old.
While you’re still going to read about a profession with a higher suicide rate, you may be stunned to learn that dentists are 1.67 times more likely to commit suicide in contrast to other professions. Turns out you may not be the only one that hates going into the dentist office! While it may not seem as stressful as going to the hospital, dentists are often working in an incredibly high-pressure situation and it was reported that dentists often find themselves being incredibly overworked when they first get into the profession. That being said, when you look at the cost of dentist school, you’ll understand more as to why they work so much without paying attention to their own personal and mental health. Last but not least, dentists are often very knowledgeable about pharmacological drugs and as a result, may have an easier means to commit suicide.
2. Medical Doctors
While there are several studies out there that talk about depression, there are also several out there that talk about suicide rates in regards to career choice. Perhaps shockingly, when it comes to careers with the highest rate, it was doctors who were 1.87 times more likely to commit suicide in contrast to other professions. When looking at why the rate of suicide was so high, the study talked about the fact that doctors have the ability to easily obtain medication, and as a result, are more likely to abuse it if they get depressed.
It was suggested that doctors’ knowledge of drugs led to doctors choosing drug overdose 4x more than any other method. You also need to factor in the stigma around doctors and health, and understand that they may not be willing to go and seek psychiatric help because they do not want to be perceived as weak.
If that wasn’t enough, you also get to work ridiculously long hours in an incredibly stressful environment. Sure, you make lots of money, but you know what was not free? Medical school!
It was reported in May that 265 active-duty servicemen committed suicide in the past year. This number was down from 273 suicides in 2014. The worst year for the military came in 2012 in which 321 servicemen ended their own life, working out to an average of 30 suicides per 100,000 soldiers.
Suicide prevention in veterans is also a serious concern. It was reported in 2015 that 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and while the actual numbers are a bit more complicated than that, there is no doubting that far too many veterans are suffering without proper intervention. In 2014, it was reported that there was also a spike in suicides for veterans that were between 18 and 24 years old.
It was also reported that one in two veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were aware of at least one other service member who attempted or committed suicide.
The Army is working on a $50 million, long-term study with hopes of figuring out what is causing soldiers to commit suicide and how to help future soldiers and veterans.