Rates of Depression Among Full-Time Workers

According to a study released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), data indicates that an annual average of 7.0 percent of full-time workers aged 18 to 64 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report, released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on October 11, 2007, combined data from 2004 to 2006 indicate that an annual average of 7.0 percent of full-time workers aged 18 to 64 experienced a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year.

A major depressive episode (MDE) is defined in the report 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.

Among the 21 major occupational categories, the highest rates of past year depression among full-time workers aged 18 to 64 were found in the personal care and service occupations (10.8 percent) and the food preparation and serving related occupations (10.3 percent). The occupational categories with the lowest rates of past year MDE were engineering, architecture, and surveying (4.3 percent); life, physical, and social science (4.4 percent); and installation, maintenance, and repair (4.4 percent).

Depression Among Workers by Occupation

Workers who reported a major depressive episode in the past year among occupational categories are as follows:

  • Personal Care and Service - 10.8%
  • Food Preparation and Serving Related - 10.3%
  • Community and Social Services - 9.6%
  • Healthcare Practitioners and Technical - 9.6%
  • Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media - 9.1%
  • Education, Training, and Library - 8.7%
  • Office and Administrative Support - 8.1%
  • Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance - 7.3%
  • Financial - 6.7%
  • Sales and Related - 6.7%
  • Legal - 6.4%
  • Transportation and Material Moving - 6.4%
  • Mathematical and Computer Scientists - 6.2%
  • Production - 5.9%
  • Management - 5.8%
  • Farming, Fishing, and Forestry - 5.6%
  • Protective Service - 5.5%
  • Construction and Extraction - 4.8%
  • Installation, Maintenance, and Repair - 4.4%
  • Life, Physical, and Social Science - 4.4%
  • Engineering, Architecture, and Surveyors - 4.3%

Depression is a treatable illness. Because it often goes unrecognized, depression continues to cause unnecessary suffering.

According to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM), and published September 26, 2007, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, workplace depression screening and treatment improves employee health and productivity and can lead to lower overall costs for the employer.

Previous studies have shown that employees who are depressed are less productive and are absent more often. NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, MD, said, "This study provides compelling evidence of the importance of workplace depression screening, outreach, and enhanced treatment. It is in the interest of workers' health and the company's bottom line to ensure depressed employees are effectively treated."

Sources:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies. (October 11, 2007).

The NSDUH Report: Depression among Adults Employed Full-Time, by Occupational Category. Rockville, MD.

Reviewed by athealth on February 7, 2014.