A new study suggests that people who have trouble getting a good job may be at greater risk for depression and anxiety disorders.
The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Duke University analyzed more than 2,000 adults who were either unemployed or underemployed.
Researchers also asked participants to rate how much they liked their job, how well they felt they were doing in their jobs, and whether they felt confident in their job and how well the company was doing.
People with depression and a lower level of confidence in their ability to get a good salary were at greater odds to have depression and more likely to have anxiety disorders, the study found.
Depression symptoms are typically mild and can be treatable.
Anxiety symptoms are often more severe, and are considered a more chronic problem.
The authors note that the finding that depression and its associated disorders are more prevalent among people with lower incomes may explain why lower income individuals are less likely to get job offers.
The researchers suggest that this may be due to the fact that job opportunities are often offered in the middle of economic downturns.
People who struggle with depression may also be more vulnerable to a job loss, which could potentially increase the risk of mental illness and other disorders.
“Job losses are a reality for many people,” said study co-author Jennifer E. Kwan, a UCF professor of business and economics.
“While the causes of job losses are varied, one common factor may be low incomes.”
“The job loss effect is a problem, not just for those with depression, but for all of us who are unemployed and underemerged,” said Kwan.
“We need to address this problem by supporting those who are underempowered and those who need help to get jobs.”
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
The results were based on interviews with 1,000 people in their early 20s, and also on self-report measures of depression and job satisfaction.
A separate study from Duke University also found that those who were unemployed or at risk for unemployment were more likely than those who had not been in a job for at least two years to report depression.
In addition, the researchers found that people with a higher level of stress and anxiety symptoms were more than twice as likely to report mental health problems.
These findings suggest that job-related stress, anxiety, and depression are factors in the more frequent and severe problems people experience in the job market, and that these factors may play a role in the development of depression.
“People with lower levels of confidence, on the other hand, may have less of a need for a job,” said E.J. Hirsch, a UCSF associate professor of psychology and one of the study’s authors.
“These people may also find it harder to secure a job and have less confidence in that job, even if they have a higher quality of job and/or are doing well at work.”
The researchers say they think the findings have broad implications for individuals who are struggling with job insecurity.
“When job insecurity is present, it could impact a person’s ability to move into and retain good jobs,” said Hirsch.
“As a society, we need to work to better understand how job insecurity impacts people and their families.”
This article was produced by the Health Affairs Team at The Wall Street Journal.