Next time you're on a bus, you might want to be extra-nice to your driver. A new study suggests that some jobs can lead to higher rates of depression in employees — with local transportation workers particularly at risk, reports The Atlantic.
The study, published last month in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, was an attempt to find the prevalence of depression in employees working in 55 different industries. To do so, the researchers looked at insurance claims data for over 214,000 people employed in Pennsylvania between 2002 and 2005.
According to their results, the industries with the highest rates of depression were: local transportation, such as bus drivers (16.19%); real estate (15.65%); and social work (14.60%). Those with the lowest rates were: amusement and recreation services, which includes the performing arts (6.87%); as well as miscellaneous repair services (7.21%). Legal services were ranked sixth, with 13.44% of employees suffering from depression, while publishing was found to have a 12.43% prevalence rate.
Of course physical labor takes a toll on employees' wellbeing, but the study authors speculate we underestimate the influence of a job's "emotional labor" on employee mental health. However, this study only included data from people who reported and sought help for their depression — and many people with symptoms do not. Also, since this study focused on employees in Pennsylvania, it's difficult to generalize and draw conclusions about other parts of the country — especially because we know depression rates vary by region.
However, another paper published last week in the same journal also found a link between job satisfaction and mental health. In this longitudinal study, researchers found a staggering amount of overlap between the symptoms and presentation of depression and what we call occupational "burnout." Even though exact definitions of burnout may differ, the two may be more related than we realize — burnout could even be a specific manifestation of depression. Another study of over 5,000 schoolteachers published last month had similar findings.