Does Your Job Get You Down?

Is your job making you depressed?

It might be: a new government study shows that seven percent of full-time workers have battled a serious bout of depression in the last year.

The study breaks it down into 21 job categories. Personal care workers (ie. people who take care of children or the elderly) have the highest rate of depression (10.8 percent) This is followed closely by people in the food service industry (10.3 percent) The third highest is a tie between Social Workers and Healthcare Workers (9.6 percent).

The study also showed that the industries with lowest rates of depressed workers were engineering, maintenance and the sciences; that females workers more depressed than men and, no surprise here, unemployed workers were more depressed than full-time employed workers

(To read the full report, click here.)

The Early Show asked clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere to explain why some jobs are more high risk than others. The most major depressive episodes occured among people who work in the personal service sector, in food services and in social services.

"Right off the top, in those professions you are not seeing a lot of money, nor are you seeing people moving in a positive direction as far as advancement to higher positions. With the top 2 (personal care, food service) we're seeing more unskilled workers -- especially those who tend to the elderly," he said. "And then something people don't mention -- but to some extent -- those are recent immigrants who take a lot of these jobs. It's not a lot of money, but they're happy to get these jobs because a lot of people don't want to take those jobs.

"But there is a lot of physicality to the work. Dealing with people who are sick, dying. Childcare is of course very tiresome. I've also noticed the same thing for people who work for the mentally ill."

And while people who work in food services don't face some of the heartbreak that personal care workers and social workers face, they face stressful work places and customers who can be rude and unpleasant.

"I think it's the waiting on other people," said Gardere. "While it is an honorable profession -- it's waiting on other people. Not everyone is kind to our food service preparers. When I go out to eat I see a lot of people who are rude or ambivalent or just view waiters as hired help."

The jobs with the happiest people, he said, "are ones where managers give positive reinforcment. They tell their workers, not only have they done a good job, but they valuable to the workplace and actually making a difference in people's lives. When you dont have those managers that have that kind of thinking, that vision, that charisma, then you have a workforce that ends up hating their jobs."

For those working in high risk jobs, Gardere had some suggestions.

"If you're working in these 'depressing' professions, try to get a job doing that where the workplace is much more productive and honest. A lot of these places are like mills -- how many cases can we charge, how many people can we see a day. So if nothing else, take charge and make sure you have a good, clean environment. Cleanlieness is very important to the work site and the people that your'e helping."

Friendships, he noted, can also alleviate depression. "At the workplace, talk to other workers. Have a fellowship with your coworkers," said Gardere. "It shouldn't be just about complaining but how everyone can work together to make the environment better. If you can talk about it, find strategies to make it better, more positive. You can help people and help yourselves more."