Bus drivers top the list of occupations with the highest depression rates.
They are closely followed by real estate agents and social workers.
What do these — and the other jobs with the highest rates of depression — have in common?
It’s dealing with the public, as the study’s authors explain:
“…service industries which require frequent or complex interactions with the public or clients are disproportionately represented…
This supports the theory that the stress of emotional labor could contribute to depression.”
High emotional labour refers to the idea of frequently having to manage your emotions in a job.
For example, imagine a flight attendant smiling and saying “Good morning” to the 465th passenger of the day.
Here is the full list of the 17 jobs with the highest depression rates:
- Transportation driver
- Estate agent
- Social worker
- Personal services
- Legal services
- Membership organisations
- Security and commodities brokers
- Printing and publishing
- Agricultural services
- Electric, gas, and sanitary
- Special trade contractors
- Petroleum and coal
- General merchandise retail
- Auto repair
This is far from the first time that depression has been linked to people working in public transportation.
The authors explain:
“The highest depression rates were found for Local and Suburban Transit and Interurban Highway Passenger Transportation
This industry contains bus drivers who have frequently been observed to have elevated rates of heart disease, hypertension, or stroke, often attributed in part to work stress.”
More than just dealing with the public, though, it is too much interpersonal conflict that is linked to high depression rates:
“…industries with the highest depression…tended to be industries that, on the national level, had more interpersonal conflict and encounters with difficult people than industries with the lowest depression rates.”
The other major factors for depressing jobs:
- Low levels of control over your work.
- Little physical activity during work.
- High levels of work/family conflict.
- Much effort for little reward.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology (Wulsin et al., 2014).