Depression Among Adults Employed Full-Time by Occupational Category


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Date: 10/15/2007
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

Personal Care and Food Service Employees Have Highest Rates of Depression Among Workers

Most Adults Battling Depression Have Full-Time Jobs

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 (SAMHSA).

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 SAMHSA's 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 2004-2006 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 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.  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).

Depression among Adults Employed Full-Time, by Occupational Category is available on the Web at Copies may be obtained free of charge by calling SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727). Request inventory number NSDUH07-1011. For related publications and information, visit or the following:

  • National Institutes of Mental Health: Telephone screening, outreach and care management for depressed workers and impact on clinical and work productivity outcomes, a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept 26, 2007; 298(12): 1401-11
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability, capacity, and effectiveness of the nation's substance abuse prevention, addictions treatment, and mental health services delivery system.

This page was last updated on December 31, 2008.