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Published October 14, 2007 10:34 PM

Depressed at work? Get a new career

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Child care workers, home health care aides and other people who provide personal services have the highest rates of depression among U.S. workers, according to a new survey to be published on Monday.

It found that 10.8 percent of personal care and service workers and 10.3 percent of food preparation and serving workers -- both usually low-paying jobs -- experienced one or more major depressive episodes in the past year.

The least depressing careers appear to lie in architecture, engineering, the sciences and in the installation, maintenance and repair fields, the survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found.

"Combined data from 2004 to 2006 indicate that an annual average of 7 percent of full-time workers aged 18 to 64 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year," the report reads.

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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."

Depression is a physiological disease of the brain, but a person's individual circumstances can affect its frequency and severity. Both drugs and counseling can help.

SAMHSA used data from the National Survey of Drug Use, which involved interviews of more than 60,000 people. The SAMSHA depression survey focused on workers aged 18 to 64.

"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," the report reads.

"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," SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline said in a statement.

"Depression screening, outreach and enhanced treatment can improve productivity, lower employer costs, and improve the quality of life for individuals and their families."

The report found the following rates of depression by job category:

-- Personal care ..... 10.8 percent

-- Food preparation and serving ......10.3 percent

-- Community and social services.......9.6 percent

-- Health practioners and technical....9.6 percent

-- Arts, design, sports and media......9.0 percent

-- Education, training and library.....8.7 percent

-- Financial and sales .6.7 percent

-- Legal and transportation ...........6.4 percent

-- Management ..........5.8 percent

-- Farming, fishery and forest ........5.6 percent

-- Construction and mining ............4.8 percent

-- Installation, maintenance, repair...4.4 percent

-- Life, physical and social science...4.4 percent

-- Engineering, architecture, surveyor.4.3 percent

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