Top 10 Most Depressing Jobs

Depression experienced by individuals in a profession is largely dependent on the kind of pressure they face. This can be related to the responsibilities laid on them, the time frames in which they work or the amount of control they have over a situation. Organizational psychologists state that in addition to this, monotony can contribute to feelings of depression.

According to literature on psychology, depression is chiefly characterized by severe and persistent low moods (depression), loss of pleasure in activities previously enjoyed (anhedonia), lack of appetite, chronic fatigue and disturbances in sleep pattern.

This can be accompanied by suicidal ideations, a reduction in motor activity and feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Here is a list of jobs in which the most number of depressive episodes are reported:

1. Nursing Profession
2. Food Service
3. Social Work
4. Health Care
5. Artists
6. Teachers
7. Administrative Support
8. Maintenance and Ground Work
9. Financial Advice and Accounting
10. Sales

1. Nursing Profession

Nursing professionals have most incidences of a major depressive episode. With 11% individuals in this health care profession experiencing depression, psychologists are evaluating the different aspects that contribute to it. One aspect can be tending to sick people and having the responsibility of nursing them back to health. When this is combined with the possibility that a number of these patients may not return to good health, it can contribute to depressed feelings.

Psychologists believe that affirmations about performance can make a person feel positive about their work. However, nurses rarely experience this positive reinforcement as they predominantly interact with people who are mostly incapable of expressing affirmation owing to their health. In addition to nurses, caretakers of children and old people are also extremely prone to depression.

2. Food Service

Staff in the food service industry is probably in the second most depressing job. Around 10% of people in this field report experiencing an episode of major depression. A predominant reason for this is the low wages in this industry. The staff at restaurants and eateries has to stay on their feet for long hours.

They are expected to take instructions and comments from their customers. Besides, the food service staff gets very little verbal and monetary appreciation from their customers. These factors make it difficult for the staff to stay motivated when on the job.

3. Social Work

Those in the field of social work are next on the list of those in the most depressing jobs. This is because social workers deal with a number of people who are experiencing crisis. These people may be children who are orphaned, women who were abused or old people who are homeless. In addition to this, social workers all over the world also have to handle issues of socially oppressed groups to help them fight for their basic rights.

These responsibilities make the field of social work depressing and stressful. Psychologists say that those working in this field are expected to make sacrifices to meet the requirements of those who seek their help. Over time, these sacrifices can lead to burn out and depression in social workers.

4. Health Care

While people in the nursing profession are considered the most depressed, those in the rest of the health care profession are believed to be in the fourth most depressing job in the world. People in this field include doctors, therapists, clinical psychologists and health care assistants. A behavioral science study revealed that close to 25% physicians reported a two week period of depression.

According to this study, anesthesiologists are more likely to experience anhedonia – a lack of joy in activities that previously interested them. In addition to this, the report stated that with work timings for surgeons and therapists on-call being erratic, their work life balance gets disrupted. They see death, trauma and sickness on a daily basis, which contributes to a depressed mood.

5. Artists

Artists are believed to experience the next highest episodes of depression and historically this depression has been linked to the quality of their work. While depression in people in other fields can reduce their quality of work, the same in artists is said to improve it. To understand this, social psychologists have carried out research that affirms this belief to some extent.

The psychologists say that there can be a possible biological and social pathway in artists that allows for this. In addition to artists, writers and entertainers are also considered a part of this fifth most depressing job. This is based on various studies conducted by behavioral science researchers, who have found a relationship between creative fields and depression.

6. Teachers

A large number of teachers are believed to experience at least one episode of depression a year. This can be mainly because they have a highly stressful job that gets carried on through the day, as teachers are expected to carry work home. In addition to this, teachers have to consistently meet students’ expectations of being up to date with information and data regarding their subject.

Also, teachers are met with the stress of not only tutoring students but also ensuring their well being during the day as well as reporting to parents about students’ performance.

7. Administrative Support

Staff working in the administrative support area also tends to experience episodes of depression. This can be largely due to the fact that their skills are in demand in situations where they have little control. Secretaries and support staff in the administrative area are expected to handle myriad responsibilities that help an organization function smoothly.

However, they get very little recognition for their work. This can lead to low moods and feelings of worthlessness, which are symptoms of depression.

8. Maintenance and Ground Work

People in maintenance and ground work fields are believed to experience frequent bouts of depression owing to the fact that their work is called for only when required. Generally, maintenance and ground work staff is called on only when an aspect of the building’s functioning is disrupted.

Due to this, people in this field have to work odd hours making it difficult for them to establish a work life balance. They also have to work on varying schedules, have to deal with sliding pay scales and work frequent night shifts. These different aspects contribute a large turnover in this field and result in a large number of episodes of depression.

9. Financial Advice and Accounting

Professionals in the field of financial advice and accounting are also often highly stressed and depressed. This can be due to the fact that they have to handle the responsibility of other people’s finances, which can be demanding. Besides, the finances are connected to one of the most unpredictable variables in the field – the rise and fall of the market. Financial advisors and accountants also have to regularly deal with demanding clients who may be unappreciative, leading to feelings of worthlessness in them.

10. Sales

The last profession on this list of the most depressive jobs in the world is sales. People from this field are most often employed on commission, making it difficult for them to predict their next pay check. This uncertainty when combined with the fact that they have to spend a lot of time traveling can lead to depression.

Also, when sales people travel, they spend a considerable amount of time away from their families and friends because of which they experience a lack of a strong support system. In addition to this, their job involves tremendous amount of stress and pressure to meet targets.

While the rate of depression in these fields is considerably high, the rate in the unemployed crowd is estimated to be around 13%. This figure is 3% more than in any most depressing job on this list.

  • Northern man 01

    I have been a nurse for 28 years. I also trained as a primary school teacher but now I work in social services. That’s a triple whammy for me, and guess what? I have been depressed (a couple of years ago).

    I loved nursing and considered myself good at my job but the things that made me most despairing about the work were

    1) the move towards admin-heavy roles

    2) the focus on the need to avoid litigation, constantly worrying about whether someone, some day will claim they were somehow given a poor service

    3) being frequently and inaccurately vilified as a profession by journalists, politicians and other professions

    4) having little professional status in comparison to other professionals (rarely as well trained or experienced)

    5) receiving little or no recognition for the hard work put in (whether from service users, relatives, other involved people, wider community etc.)

    6) putting up with low pay (with regard to other professions) and pay freezes, folllowed by public hostility. It all became too thankless, too little reward and little hope of improving. Strangely enough, social services seems cushy, by comparison.

  • mouth

    u forgot apple store geniuses

  • Those U Nikkaz

    I have a degree and have worked a bunch of shitty odd jobs. Day care worker, residential skills trainer, a bunch of shitty jobs.

  • Luiz

    Why IT is not in this list? We have to take care of
    users like they are children that doesn’t know what they are doing. We are
    servers, just like food servers, but we serve data and software services,
    I have the luxury to have a hell desk (it is a hell, they are the servers, just like food servers) to take care of most of the users,
    but it’s none the less a unappreciated job. We are recognized as the guy that
    does the toilet maintenance (sure they are in the 11th position on this list),
    no one cares about them. Who cares about infrastructure? IT is infra, it’s only
    reminded when it fails, just like when your toylet clogs and you got furious
    and (unconsciously) blame the guy that will fix it. Also, programming is a
    science (in the sense of testing and experimenting), but not just an engineering
    discipline. This is a creative work, software are not constructed like a
    building, it is more like writing a novel, there is a exact methodology, but there
    is the creative part, that obviously no one acknowledge the value of being an
    artist. What happens then is that we are some kind just like artists and we
    would be on the 6th position because they are depressive. No one see the value of a beautiful and correctly constructed software, it is like a cathedral, there is art and engineering and science. The difference is that people cannot understand to appreciate it, also, most software is pure shit, it’s like sewer pipes, it’s horrible and I hate myself for doing it, but is what business want. Someone has to take out the trash and sewer.

    • littlekid

      No one has a clue about your job. I tried programming it looked way to fun to take seriously.

  • melly666

    What about 24/7 live in carers like myself? We have no escape ever and nowhere to call home as wages are too low and no free time?

  • BizzaroWorld2012

    Nursing is a horrible profession and I would not recommend it to anyone. Nurses are paid relatively “well” as new grads, but after a couple years the compensation does not equal the education, experience, or horrendous working conditions. Males are not respected, welcomed, or treated fairly by the spiteful and resentful old women who will be your immediate supervisors. Do not go into nursing, it’s not a calling, glamorous, fun, exciting, interesting, and you will get little to no satisfaction from it. Yes, I have put everything I have into it, and realized it’s a losing proposition. You can not change the culture and you cannot make a difference in nursing. If I could do it over again I can say with 100% certainty that I would not have gone back to school to be a nurse.

  • jellycat

    Isn’t it interesting that most of these professions are female dominated and that one of the stated causes of depression is lack of control.

    I work in admin and detest my job. I have a college degree and a masters. I am currently completing my second masters which should train me to actually “do” something (my first two degrees were in English Literature). My aim is to escape admin hell. I am fed up with doing tasks which are delegated to me because they are boring or because senior staff don’t want to do them.

    Like Kat G, i also work in Higher Education. Senior staff always assume because you do admin work you must be dumb, with no college degree and treat you accordingly.

  • Kat G

    Try working at the college level. It gets worse. Then, you have supervisors stepping on you to get to the top. I had an advanced degree, higher than my supervisor. It became apparent that my degree was hired, not me, because said supervisor told me in effect to shut my mouth and do what he told me with no questions asked. If a parent yelled at me, suck it up. If a coworker yelled at me, suck it up.

    The world of higher education is a closed, cutthroat world. If you don’t have the right connections and a pair of testicles, you might as well forget it.

  • FedUpRN

    People have idylistic ideas about what it is to be a nurse. It is pure hell. The nurse ALWAYS takes the blame, the crap, the yelling, the write-ups and then the nurse has to stay there after humiliated and still deal with the POS doctor or other coworker that created the mess! We must be dutiful today beyond normal comprehension. People that question why the Nurse is highest at the list for depression, take a clook at the RN Scope of Practice for any State in the US. Then look at each job description for a typical hospital job. Then actually follow a nurse around and see how they are expected to do the unbelievable acts or miracles put in front of them. Then to hear: no OT, do proper documentation, no late meds, no errors, please the patients AND their snappy visitors, don’t ever voice your concerns r/t unsafe pt. care issues. You will be pointed to the door and informed “other nurses are looking for jobs anyway, bye”

  • On/Off Employee

    I have worked in security for a few months at a time for the last 3 yrs, I worked in admin support for 9 yrs before that and have hated every job I’ve had. I think I’ll never be happy working for someone else in this capitalist market.

  • Anonymous

    Nanny ! or should i say slave!

  • jk

    To AL
    People who dont understand why nursing is depressing arent nurses. We are the scapegoat of the medical world, work 16 hr shifts, get yelled at by doctors, nurse managers. You are expected to know everything when the social worker asks you something the doctor, the physical therapist, pt why my food is cold, but sorry I got 5 pt with transfusions goin at the same time, doctor wants a lab STAT, ALL THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU AT THE SAME TIME. And quess what you’re not getting off on time and wait you forget something your co worker comes in a write you up, The family is upset the doctor didnt write an order but THE NURSE WILL GET SCREAMED AT its not just pt care people lives are in a nurses hands its not about making mega bucks. Nurse is extreme type of stress some of you can image. When you are so worn out and burnt our which a LOT of nurses do the money dont count i would LOVE TO STAND IN AN ASSEMBLY LINE ALL DAY AND NOT HAVE TO THINK. I have applied but no hits over qualified when you become a nurse and work as one then you talk.

    • littlekid

      they still want you to think even as a cashier. its about the same mental work. I am in college and know the nurse corriculum.

  • Chris

    I agree with food service. Working in food service for three years has made me hate a majority of humanity. I dont know how people can come in with the attitudes that they do. I’ve come to conclusion that they all hate their life, and want someone who they can boss around/talk down to to make themselves feel better. It got to a point to where if some people had left my store and got in a car crash and violently died, I would laugh. Good thing I got out of it.

  • Ed

    Teaching is the worst job. My goals for my career is to get out of this loser “profession”.

    • Anonymous

      You and many others including myself. We’re probably the only ones who know how to fix education,but no one really cares what we think. More work = less pay. The only people that appreciate us are the ones that can’t put money in our pockets.

  • Anonymous

    I’m in sales and even though the hunt can be challenging, it is incredibly depressing when you recieve several declines all at once. Working for commission is tough and reporting on zero sales in the current economy becomes embarressing and reduces your sense of self worth.

    Die another day.

  • Jill

    I’m in sales and have no revenue. I just cold call all day loan and the pressure NEVER ends. I am so depressed and stressed my hair started thinning. I hate MY JOB! They have a huge new biz goal and expect you to live for the company for less than 30K per year. Yeah Right! I pray every day for a new job and a way out of high pressure sales hell! My husband wants me to stay because they give me a crappy run down utility van to drive around with gas paid, etc. It is NOT WORTH IT!

  • Joseph

    Production warehouse work is the worst! They pay you minimum wage and expect you to work up to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Usually in these warehouses you can’t sit so you have to stand on your feet 10/12 hours a day standing in a production line doing the same thing over and over and over and over again until it drives you crazy and you go home tired and depressed.

    All that work and effort pays so little its pathetic!

    In China production workers, particularly at the Apple plant, have been committing suicide. I was happy to have a job and all but working this job, I did not see my friends or my girlfriend that much, lost lots of weight, too tired when I got home to have any social life, just basically felt like a slave.

    I give props to people that can do this kind of work for years, I almost lost my sanity after 6 months, the warehouse I worked at stored food and was a constant 35 degrees inside the warehouse, almost nobody spoke English, horrible pay and very long shifts with short breaks, in a very brightly light and cold warehouse ALL for 8 dollars an hour? no thanks!

  • AJ Howell

    I’m a teacher and I know this is my “calling”. I have the honor of knowing that my students often love and respect me. I am learning and creating every day along with my students. However, as the article says, I am a teacher almost 24/7 these days. What really hurts is the fact that much of society still undervalues what we teachers do. Teachers are highly educated, but do not receive commiserate compensation.

    As we get to know our students, we take on the role of family counselor, mentor, parent, cop, coach etc. Meanwhile, we must constantly keep our classrooms organized, stocked, and up-to-date with all this new technology, Nowadays, with all the budget cuts, it seems it’s easy to blame the teachers. I wish others could spend a day in my shoes.

  • AL

    I don’t understand what nurses are complaining about. I know the work is hard, but at least you can make decent money. I’d say the most depressing jobs are minimum wage jobs. You expected to work like a slave, tolerate abuse from customers and bosses, and live in fear that you might get replaced for not being too good of slave. Now, that’s a major depression waiting to happen!

    • Mr.Mt

      you hit it on the nail. after working like that for 5-8 yrs. nursing can be a breeze. what did you expect from reality?

  • Hal Bree

    I’m a nurse. After working in the business world for 25 years I pursued a BSN and went to work in a hospital. This has now become the most difficult, mind crushing, degrading experience of my life. We’re treated like just warm bodies to fill a spot and take blame. I’m looking to leave at the first available opportunity.

  • anonymous

    I have been a nurse for over 20 years and I think that taking care of my patients is the least depressing part of my job. What makes working as a nurse in the health care field depressing is dealing with the mounds of paperwork, documentation, unnecessary regulations etc. that is required. Also, interacting with other health care professionals in a macho-oriented, non-humanistic environment that pits people against one another. Very demeaning.

  • Mercy, Nairobi

    I work in Administrative support and right now. I am kind of experiencing a rough patch, our work is not recognised and one feels worthless at times. Nobody realizes that we stay in the office from 8 to 5, we are not supposed to think, yet our IQ’s are among the best in the world.

  • sonshine12

    Daycare workers should be high on the list as one of the most depressing jobs, because we are expected to do way too much work with very little pay.

  • happy

    Social work, unfortunately, is a dead-end profession, which is a real problem considering how important it is. I was a social worker for over 10 years before I had to get out for my own sanity, my health, and my finances….my last job as a SW (in 2005) paid $27,500.

    I worked 60 hours a week and carried a pager. I had a master’s degree and the terminal license for the social work field (LCSW). Young people, don’t do it. You can help people, be philanthropic, inspire change, etc in another profession (i.e., public administrator, psychologist, etc) that affords you a livable income and lifestyle, garners more respect, and doesn’t drive you insane.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been teaching for 30+ years, and I can tell you with certainty that I don’t recommend this profession to anyone who doesn’t have extremely high self-esteem. They will certainly suck it from you. You are the scapegoat for all of the world’s ills.

    The general public loves using you for a punching bag. Whatever you do is never enough. You shouldn’t need to live any more than just above the poverty level even if you have more than a Masters degree and are required to take more classes to maintain certification, attend workshops and meetings on your own time, spend your own money on classroom supplies, and be on call at home 24/7.

    Never mind that you have a family of your own. It doesn’t matter that new teachers start at very low salaries and must make payments on college loans. You must be dedicated and not complain. You must not defend yourself when a parent is ripping on what you do. It’s not about the kids it’s about getting the biggest bang for the fiscal buck.

    I love teaching but not the politics.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, you hit the nail on the head. This is exactly why teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Education has become just one big political football. Schools are ruined by administrators that just want to placate parents and climb the “corporate” ladder. I wish you the best.

  • Komkom

    I teach elementary level kids, and while the overall experience is positive and very rewarding, the tiny handful of problem students each day leave me drained and feeling inadequate, this paired with being the newest teacher at my school and not speaking the native language of the country I have come to can be really depressing -_- I really love the kids, but I don’t think I’ll be teaching as a career for the rest of my life.

  • Mike Poole

    I am a webmaster specialising in sales and I can say that being able to do sales work in the same environment all the time means that you do not get the depression of working away from home a lot. Never knowing for sure what your paycheck is going to be can get you down sometimes though.

  • Debbie

    I’m a high school teach and I can’t necessarily say that it’s depressing. What I can say is that it’s a stressful job so I see where it may lead to some sort of depression. I guess it’s all about your state of mind and leaving work ‘at work’.

  • I’m A Nurse

    I can say that I’m a nurse and it’s a VERY depressing job. I mean I love the actual work of my job but seeing all the carnage that comes through the doors is sad. I see things that people shouldn’t be subject too.