Government Study Finds Personal Care, Food Service Employees Have Highest Rates of Depression

RATES of depression among full-time workers are highest in personal care and service jobs, as well as food preparation and serving occupations, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report on workers ages 18 to 64, "Depression among Adults Employed Full-Time, by Occupational Category," found that 10.8 percent of personal care and service workers and 10.3 percent of food preparation and serving workers experienced one or more major depressive episodes in the past year. In the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the source for this report, a major depressive episode is defined as a period of two weeks or longer during which there is depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration and self-image.

Overall, 7 percent of full-time workers faced depression in the past year, according to these combined 2004 to 2006 estimates. While rates of depression were higher among the unemployed and part-time workers, 52.4 percent of the adults who reported past year depression were employed full-time. Full-time workers make up more than half of the adult population.

"Depression exacts a high price from workers and from their employers, costing the U.S. workplace an estimated $36.6 billion per year in lost productivity," said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline, Ph.D. "Employers, workers and their family members need to know effective treatments for depression are available. Depression screening, outreach and enhanced treatment can improve productivity, lower employer costs and improve the quality of life for individuals and their families."

Among full-time workers ages 18 to 64, women were more likely than men to have faced depression. Young adult workers ages 18 to 25 had the highest rates of depression among all adult age groups. Among those 18 to 25 years old, 8.9 percent reported facing depression in the past year, while depression was reported by 7.6 percent of those ages 26 to 34; 7.2 percent of those ages 35 to 49; and 5.1 percent of those ages 50 to 64. Among young adult workers, those in health care and technical occupations had the highest rate of past year depression (11.9 percent).

The occupations with the lowest rates of past year depression among all full-time workers ages 18 to 64 were engineering, architecture and surveying (4.3 percent); life, physical and social science (4.4 percent); and installation, maintenance and repair (4.4 percent).

The report is available at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k7/depression/occupation.cfm.

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