Which jobs cause the worst burnout

Depression at work: these 9 professions make you depressed

Depression is a serious illness which, unfortunately, is often not taken (sufficiently) seriously in society. In the worst case, depression can even end in death, on the one hand through suicide, but on the other hand also through secondary diseases such as the cardiovascular system. The causes of depression are many and sometimes that includes the job. In fact, a close relationship can be found between some job profiles and depression. But why? And what are they?

1. Definition: What is behind the diagnosis of "depression"?
2. How is depression related to the job?
3. These jobs make you depressed
4. Special case "Burnout": Depression - yes or no?
5. Depression is becoming more and more of a widespread disease
6. Course of the disease: Depression does not come overnight
7. Symptoms: Depression in its various stages
8. Self-test: Am I depressed?
9. Diagnosis “Depression”: What does it mean for your career?

Definition: What is behind the diagnosis of "depression"?

According to WHO, the diagnosis describes "depression"

a widespread mental disorder that can be characterized by sadness, lack of interest and loss of pleasure, feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, sleep disorders, loss of appetite, fatigue and poor concentration.

(Source: World Health Organization)

Allegedly every person goes through several depressive episodes in his life, which however do not have to directly resemble a tangible or chronic illness. In a milder form, each of you should have come into contact with the clinical picture of depression yourself, for example by means of "winter depression".

Reading tip: Winter depression: symptoms and treatment of the winter blues + test

With a little "luck", your symptoms will go away on their own after a few weeks or months, without the need for in-depth treatment or medication. However, depression can recur or persist over a longer period of time. In extreme cases it is diagnosed as chronic and “incurable” - which is, however, technically controversial. In addition to medication, the most common forms of treatment are professional talk therapy and other forms of therapy such as music, art therapy or meditation. Depression can in principle occur at any age, but is more common among young adults on the one hand and among the unemployed on the other.

How is depression related to the job?

This gives us a first indication of the extent to which depression can also be related to the job. The high rate of depression among the unemployed, the “frequent” suicides of well-known artists such as the recent “Linkin Park” musician Chester Bennington, as well as an apparent connection between the special form of “burnout depression” and some occupations are not pure coincidence.

On the one hand, it can of course happen that depressed people are unemployed due to their illness or choose certain occupations. Creative and artistic professions in particular, such as musicians, actors or writers, particularly attract people who try to cope with their illness through their art. Unfortunately, in these circles they quickly come into excessive contact with alcohol and cigarettes or even other addictive substances such as drugs - a toxic combination for depression, not just for the psyche.

On the other hand, there seem to be jobs that act as a trigger for depression. The increase in cases of depression, which result in at least temporary incapacity for work, in German society is also frightening. So which professions are particularly at risk from the disease and how do you recognize the onset of depression in yourself?

These jobs make you depressed

In principle, of course, you can become depressed in any job or stay healthy in a "threatened" job over the long term. Nevertheless, scientists have been able to identify an increased likelihood of developing depression, especially in jobs in which you have a lot to do with people. On the one hand, this includes social professions such as

  • Nurse,
  • Educator or
  • Social worker.

On the other hand, customer contact, teaching or simply a high level of communication on the job can lead to depression. Occupational profiles such as

  • Teacher,
  • Employee in the call center,
  • Receptionist,
  • Management consultant
  • Cashier or
  • Public administration official.

As a rule, this is - at least initially - the special form of “burnout”.

Special case "Burnout": Depression - yes or no?

“Burnout” has almost become a buzzword and while many people find it difficult to admit the illness of depression in their social environment, as they experience it as a stigma, this does not seem to be the case with “burnout”.

Reading tip: Psychotherapy - a stigma that ruins careers

“Burnout” - that sounds popularly like “Wow, he / she was so hardworking that he / she burned out. Respect!". What suddenly sounds pretty stupid in black and white, it is. Strictly speaking, the burnout syndrome is not proof of extraordinary hard work or the diagnosis of a little relaxation if you have put too much work on yourself, but it is a solid depression. Strictly speaking, the "burnout" is nothing more than a post-traumatic stress disorder, in other words you simply had too much stress, which led you to the depression of exhaustion. This stress can, but does not have to, result from an excessive workload combined with too few relaxation periods.

Reading tip: Burnout Syndrome - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment + Test

Emotional stress, constant time pressure or a bad working atmosphere can also drive you into a burnout syndrome “because of your job” without having to accumulate a lot of overtime or spend yourself day after day. In addition, private burdens can of course fuel such a development. Whatever the reasons for your burnout syndrome: You should by no means take it lightly, but rather understand that you suffer from a condition called depression, which in most cases requires treatment.

You can find more infographics at Statista

Depression is becoming more and more of a widespread disease

The fact that “burnout” is being referred to more and more often as a “fashion disease” is primarily due to its rapid rise in our society. More and more people in Germany report being unable to work every year because of exhaustion or other depression or a depressive episode. According to an evaluation by the Techniker Krankenkasse, every employed person in Germany was on sick leave for one day due to a depressive episode or illness. Of course, this is only an extrapolation. While many German employees have (so far) been spared the disease, those affected are often not only absent for a day or a week, but for a long period of time, which in extreme cases can drag on for months or even years. Since 2000 alone, incapacity for work due to depression in Germany has risen by more than 70 percent - and there seems to be no end in sight for the time being.

You can find more infographics at Statista

It is also noticeable that significantly more women than men seem to suffer from depression. But this appearance is partly deceptive, according to the experts at Techniker Krankenkasse. Women are simply more likely to admit the disease to themselves. It is easier for them to show weakness in their professional life - and depression is usually perceived as such by those affected. Nevertheless, women more often than men suffer from multiple burdens, for example coordinating work, raising children and caring for relatives. Accordingly, it can actually be assumed that slightly more women than men are affected by burnout, depressive episodes or depression that requires treatment, so the conclusion.

All in all, there is the fear that, especially among the masters of creation, the number of unreported cases of those affected by depression could be far above that of the statistics. The burnout syndrome or all forms of depression seem slowly but surely to develop into a widespread disease.

Course of the disease: Depression does not come overnight

Depression, be it burnout syndrome or not, usually begins slowly. Although this can also be caused by a stroke of fate or other sudden serious changes in the life situation, these are rather exceptional cases. In the case of burnout syndrome in particular, those affected often only notice their illness very late. They do not realize their symptoms at the beginning, cannot interpret them correctly or successfully suppress the first warning signs. As a result, not only psychological but also physical problems develop, which in the long run can become serious illnesses and, in the worst case, end fatally - as mentioned at the beginning.

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So headaches are combated with pain medication, sleep disorders with sleeping pills or alcohol and lead tiredness with exercise. It is obvious that these measures are neither successful nor healthy. Especially when the body is already burned out due to the psychological situation, any additional stress - even sport - leads deeper into the downward spiral. Those affected do not want to admit their incipient illness or cannot correctly interpret the symptoms and thus slide faster and faster into depression. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for them to seek treatment only when they feel overwhelmed or already unable to work and they can no longer find any other way out than to see a doctor. An early onset of therapy could already achieve great success with simple measures and perhaps even prevent the burnout syndrome or depression.

Reading tip: Preventing burnout - 10 effective tips for active prevention

The sooner you can notice the first signs of depression in yourself, the better your chances of recovery, perhaps even from the inevitable inability to work that will sooner or later occur. So what should you watch out for in order to prevent depression? And what should you do if you notice the first symptoms?

Symptoms: Depression in its various stages

Each depression is individual and the symptoms appear in different forms and in a wide variety of constellations. Just because you feel tired and exhausted for a week doesn't mean you are depressed. Maybe you've had the flu, a bad week, or slept too little. It is therefore primarily the duration and the combination of the different symptoms that provide the most important clues for the presence of depression. Of course, a diagnosis should only be made by a specialist. Nevertheless, it can't hurt to go into self-reflection and watch out for the following symptoms:

  • leaden tiredness or fatigue
  • Sleep disorders of various degrees
  • mental as well as physical exhaustion
  • Feelings of shame or guilt
  • Disturbance of memory and concentration
  • Depression through to (baseless) sadness
  • Nervousness and inner restlessness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • severe mood swings (seemingly without a trigger)
  • increased brooding and writhing in thought loops
  • Listlessness, lack of (pre-) joy and lack of drive
  • Fears up to panic attacks
  • Loss of self-esteem

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You should consult a doctor immediately at the latest when you have thoughts of suicide. Feelings of hopelessness or frequent (wishful) thoughts about death can also be a clear warning sign. Since depression is not to be trifled with and - as already mentioned - you can at best "intercept" it the earlier you seek treatment, you should consult a doctor as soon as you notice changes in yourself in the sense of the symptoms described for a longer period of time Observe period than two weeks.

It is not uncommon for the psychological symptoms to be accompanied by physical complaints sooner or later. These include, for example:

  • dizziness
  • a headache
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • overexcited (for example, twitching) nerves
  • Back pain
  • high, low or fluctuating blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • and much more m.

Particularly severe depressive phases can be accompanied by psychotic attacks, which, for example, cause hallucinations or delusions.

Self-test: am I depressed?

The best way to recognize depression in yourself, of course, is to get to know yourself, your physical and mental state, observe and react quickly to changes. Unfortunately, we are known to be "operationally blind" and therefore the first warning sign of depression can be if you are made aware of any changes in your social environment: If it often says that you have been tired lately or that everything is okay , since you seem dejected, that should give you pause. In addition, with the so-called PHQ-9 questionnaire, a (self) test was developed in order to identify and categorically classify depression, its severity and severity. Here you have to answer questions that can give a first clue about depression: How often ...

  • ... do you feel little interest or pleasure in your work?
  • ... do you have difficulty concentrating?
  • ... do you feel down or hopeless?
  • ... are you in your social environment asking you to be very fidgety or, on the contrary, very sluggish or even “noticeably slowed down” - for example with regard to your movements or thoughts?
  • ... would you rather be dead than alive?
  • ... do you suffer from insomnia?
  • ... would you consider yourself a failure or do you have problems with low self-esteem?

Obviously, the more you experience these symptoms, the more likely it is and the more serious it is. If in doubt, you should definitely have this test carried out professionally by a specialist who can initiate the appropriate therapy directly - if necessary.

Diagnosis “Depression”: What does it mean for your career?

As already mentioned, almost everyone suffers from depressive episodes one or more times in the course of their life. As a rule, you can still go to work more or less “normally” or you are only on sick leave for a short period of time. So the employer does not find out about your "problem" at first. However, the worse the depression, the greater the impact on your everyday working life. You can concentrate harder, you may seem irritable or unmotivated to your colleagues and superiors or you have more and more days off. Sooner or later, the depression can even lead to long-term incapacity for work and thus to possible dismissal.

Reading tip: Termination due to illness: Tips for employees and employers

So if you want to protect your career, but above all yourself, from the consequences of depression, you should recognize and treat it at an early stage based on the symptoms described and through attentive self-reflection. If your occupation or your job turns out to be the cause of your illness, you can often achieve a major improvement in your health situation by changing jobs or retraining or reorientation, perhaps towards self-employment or whatever suits you. Nevertheless - we mention it again to be on the safe side - you should seek medical advice as early as possible and discuss all measures within the framework of your therapy.

If you have thoughts of suicide, please immediately call the German Society for Suicide Prevention on 0921 - 28 33 01 or your family doctor.

What experiences have you had with yourself or in your social environment with depression? How can work cause depression? We look forward to your stories and opinions in the comments!

Photo credit: Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash.com


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