Personal Care, Food Service Employees Have Highest Rates Of Depression

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

The report on workers ages 18-64, Depression among Adults Employed Full-Time, by Occupational Category, said 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.

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Overall, 7 percent of full-time workers faced depression in the past year, according to these combined 2004-2006 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 26-34; 7.2 percent of those ages 35-49; and 5.1 percent of those ages 50-64.

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