JOB SEARCH / JUN. 03, 2015
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Study Reveals the Industries With the Highest Prevalence of Depression


An insurance claims database has revealed the most depressing jobs in the world by looking at the prevalence rates of depression by industry (55 industries were examined). The rates for clinical depression in the industries studied varied from around 7% to around 16% – to put this into some sort of context, the rate of depression in the population is 10.5%. You may be surprised by some of the findings, published in The Richest, which suggests that the industries with the highest rates of depression are those which necessitate frequent or challenging interactions with the public or with customers, are stressful and have low levels of physical exercise. The lowest rates of depression were found to be in “amusement and recreation services”.

See also: Industries with the biggest drink problem

According to the study, the dubious honour of being the most depressing job in the world goes to bus driving (“public transit”). But which other professions make the top ten? Have a look at the table below, showing the rate of depression expressed as a percentage.


Prevalence Rates of Depression by Industry

Sector Prevalence, %
Education 10.1
Engineering 10.9
Healthcare 11.5
Publishing 12.3
Legal Services 13.7
Professional Services 14.4
Manufacturing 14.4
Social Work 14.8
Real Estate 15.5
Public Transit 16.2


Why the Study is Important

“Employers need to take a more proactive approach to employees with depression.” Kings College London

Claims database analyses such as this one can help countries identify priorities for treating depression and also help organizations ensure that there are strategies in place to prevent and treat depression, particularly in those sectors where depression is prevalent.

From an economic perspective, the cost of depression is substantial. Depression is a major health challenge which affects an estimated 350 million people worldwide. The cognitive effects of depression, which include difficulties in concentration and forgetfulness, have a substantial impact on quality of life and the ability to function both professionally and socially. According to one study, sufferers of depression will experience cognitive symptoms more than 94 percent of the time and, unfortunately, these symptoms are frequently overlooked.

Depression is a significant cause of unemployment. Affecting young and old, it can also cause people to avoid entering the job market altogether. And in the workplace, it accounts for a large proportion of sickness absences (a large cross-European study reveals that up to 55 percent of employees diagnosed with depression take time off as a result of their illness) and reduced productivity. 

Depression costs an estimated £77bn a year in Europe; a study by King’s College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science, confirms that the greatest financial loss is through productivity and absenteeism. The same study found that the impact of depression in the workplace is “seriously underestimated” - significantly, over half of employers surveyed in a separate study believed that their employees with depression could work effectively in spite of their depression, a belief which KCL says “contradicts data from a study of 7,000 people”.

Treating Depression is not Straightforward

The ability to identify and treat depression is complicated by sufferers’ fears about confidentiality and their belief that revealing their condition will have a negative impact on their careers. This is very unfortunate as there is evidence that early identification and treatment of depression can be pivotal to preventing recurrence.

See also: How to manage mental health at work

Are you surprised by the rates of depression in the industries shown? What support is available for people suffering with depression in your place of work? Please add any comments to the box below.

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