Work can be stressful, but those who struggle with mental health issues find it nearly impossible sometimes. In fact, dealing with depression can feel like a job by itself. Meeting deadlines, sending emails, and socializing in the office can feel awful, but believe it or not, there are jobs that are compatible with this condition and other mental health illnesses.
Most Suitable Jobs for People with Depression
If you suffer from depression, you might want to learn which things to look for in a job. The suggested 11 careers could be a great fit for you, as they help you stay active, do not require you to interact with large groups of people, offer a flexible schedule, or allow you to work from home.
Depression in the US: Facts
Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the US for ages between 15 to 44.3. It affects more than 16 million American adults, or put simply, more than 6.5% of the US population aged 18 or older. While severe depression can develop at any age, on average people experience it for the first time at 32.5 years old. Women are more prone to struggle with this condition.
This mental illness frequently results in fatigue and hopelessness, limiting the ability of depressed individuals to carry out our daily tasks, such as working. In 2017, an estimate of 11 million American adults suffered at least one major depressive disorder that caused severe impairment.
As its worst, depression can lead to suicide. According to the WHO, close to 800.000 people in the world end their lives every year, which is about one person every 40 seconds. In the US, suicide rates are on the rise, being the second leading cause of death for those under the age of 35. However, this does not mean most people with depression will try to kill themselves.
Mental Health Stigma at Work
Depression is a common mental disorder. However, 8 out of 10 employees who struggle with mental illness say that stigma and shame prevent them from seeking professional help. It is no surprise that people don’t talk about depression as openly as other conditions like asthma or diabetes, not even at the most progressive workplaces. Unfortunately, negative stereotypes about depression and anxiety still persist in our society.
People are afraid of losing their reputation or compromising work relationships, so they tend to keep their condition secret. However, depression can only be treated by professionals, who can help put patients in their way to recovery.
For every $1 invested in scaled up treatment for common mental conditions, says the WHO, there is a return of $4 in improved productivity and health. Nevertheless, many depressed employees are yet too afraid to miss work to visit a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Mental Health at the Workplace
Being active generally has a positive impact on mental health, but a negative working environment can result in anxiety and depression. Harassment and bullying are commonly reported situations, although work is not always what triggers depressive symptoms. Sometimes, genetics, traumatic events or other situations can result in mental illness, causing severe impairment.
Research has revealed that workplaces that promote mental health are more likely to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. Risks to mental health include poor communication and management policies, limited participation in decision making, inflexible working hours and unclear tasks o organizational objectives.
With that in mind, it’s important to consider your job options carefully, avoiding high stress positions and choosing those that allow you to have a reasonable work-life balance. Regardless of the line of work you might be considering, you should seek professional help before you actually start looking for a new job.
Depression: Is it You or the Job?
Work is not likely to cause depression by itself. However, it can be harmful for those individuals predisposed to mental illness. If you regularly feel sitting at your desk on the verge of tears, you probably have mental condition that needs to be addressed.
Once you fall into the trap of feeling miserable, it can be difficult to get out without professional help. Here are some signs that may indicate that your job is affecting your life negatively:
- You can’t stop thinking about work. Your weekends should be about relaxing and clearing your mind. If you can’t stop replying the situations that went wrong or keep telling yourself you don’t want to go to the office next day, it’s time to get hold of a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
- Social events at work are not fun, but draining. You turn down any opportunity to socialize because you find it exhausting.
- Your physical health is compromised. Depression does not only happen in the mind. It can also cause fatigue, stomach pain, headaches and muscle cramps.
- You constantly consider calling in sick to stay home. You want to avoid work at all costs, so you make up excuses to stay in, such as the flu or food poisoning, even if they are not the real cause of your symptoms.
- You don’t care about work performance anymore. You feel demotivated, and the idea of being fired does not make you worried. If you have lost interest in your current job, be honest with yourself. Is there any other type of work that can help you feel better or happier?
Best Jobs for Depressed People
There are lots of good-paying jobs that allow you to set your own working hours. Many companies in the US, especially since the COVID pandemic started, are becoming aware of the benefits of flexible hours and remote work. Employers who fail to provide an acceptable work-life balance set the stage for lower productivity and higher turnover rates.
If you are struggling to find a job, you could start your own business. This does not necessarily mean that you need to have to monitor the New York Stock Exchange. You can just simply be your own boss and work when you feel like doing so.
Running your own business provides you with the freedom to set your own working hours in quiet spaces. Just think about the activities you are passionate about and consider a type of job that lets you put your hobbies or personal interests to work. Below are the best 11 jobs for people with depression.
1. Dog – walking
If you are looking for a rewarding, low-stress job that can keep you active, walking dogs could be a great fit. Dog walkers can generally set their own schedules. In addition, the job does not require much interaction with other people. On top of that, being out and about will get you a healthy dose of vitamin D, shown to help with symptoms of depression.
Spending time with dogs is beneficial for mental health. Dogs and humans share an innate instinct to touch and feel to experience physical connection with others. Dogs are patient and will understand your condition, and walking with them will make you feel loved and cared for.
If you like plants, horticulture could be up your alley. There is a wide array of careers to choose from in the industry, from landscaping to botanic gardens or greenhouses. Green space could play a key role in helping you fight depression and anxiety. Already in the 1800s, Dr. Benjamin Rush also called the father of American psychiatry, documented the positive effect that horticulture had on mental illness.
Gardening is considered moderate exercise, which can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, the hormones that make us feel happy. At the same time, it can reduce the levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.
If reading is what floats your boat, working in a library can serve as therapy. Organizing books in a quiet space will help you relax while keeping you physically active. If you don’t feel like dealing with customers, consider applying for a job at the archives section, where librarians preserve, protect, and conduct research on historical documents.
4. Park Ranger
If you love nature and the outdoors, this job might be a great fit for you. Rangers get to learn about wildlife, surviving skills, backpacking, camping, and a lot more. Many national parks across the US offer internship programs that provide accommodation and training for those who want to help other people get the most out of the American natural beauty.
If you are passionate about teaching but can’t handle the rigors of a classroom, tutoring could work for you. There is a lot more to tutoring than teaching kids. Many companies and private clients hire tutors to help them translate, understand the culture where they are going to do business or other tasks only flexible people with certain skills can carry out.
6. Digital Nomad
Although this type of job is not for everybody, it is proven to offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to time and location. As long as the job you like can be done remotely, all you need is a good Internet connection and a laptop. Programmers, graphic designers, copywriters, translators, and many other professionals benefit from the freedom that freelancing provides them with.
Becoming a digital nomad can have an extremely positive effect in your life, as it will allow you to travel and explore new locations while you work. Depressed people often find long term situations overwhelming, for example, committing to a home bond or rental for months or years to come. Digital nomads do not have the pressure to think long term, which can help them focus in the present.
7. Postal Service & Delivery
These jobs can be a great option for those struggling with mental health issues. Employers spend great time outside on their own, walking or riding their bikes. Although they interact with lots of people, the conversations with the customers are generally short and straight forward, so socializing won’t be overwhelming for you. On top of that, you will slowly get to know other people who spend long hours at home and are craving social interaction. These clients are extremely grateful and will cheer you up when feeling sad.
Regardless of your location, private-owned buildings, stores, museums, construction sites, and many other venues are always in need of security guards. These professionals need to be available at all times, but their job is not generally stressful. If you are a night owl, apply for night-shift positions, which offer plenty of downtime to read, listen to music, or explore other interests.
Photography can serve a practical purpose for those struggling with depression and anxiety and does not require much social interaction. If you enjoy capturing moments through the lens of your camera, this job might be good for you. Besides the shooting, the majority of the tasks can be carried out on your own, such as finding the locations, setting up the exposure and lights, and editing the captions.
10. Fitness training
As a fitness trainer, you will assist people at the gym, teaching them to use equipment properly. Also, you will craft customized training plans for them to get fit. This job requires you to be in good physical shape, which will contribute to your overall well-being. Regular exercise will reduce your levels of anxiety and help you deal with depressive thoughts.
Many people who suffer from depression are exceptionally smart and love numbers. Also, accounting is about having financial situations under control and solving problems. Successfully completed challenges can boost your self-esteem and improve your mood considerably, especially when going through depressive episodes. Accounting does not entail much social interaction, it’s pretty much you and the numbers.
Can I Work if I Suffer from Depression?
Many severely depressed individuals are highly functional. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on finding a career compatible with your condition. For optimal results, let a coach or mental health professional monitor your performance while you recover. A counselor can help you decide what is best for you and create a plan to make it happen.