America’s 7 Most Depressing Career Choices

New and expanding industries are in motion every day, and workforce variety is only growing. And while children may be adding astronomer and artist to their dream journals, the eventual reality is often much different. 

A job can provide satisfaction and drive, but it can also aggravate stress and overwhelm. The United States has almost 157 million jobs in action. How many of those jobs – and which in particular – are negatively affecting employees’ mental health? 

1. Nursing

While assisting in the medical field may seem rewarding, nurse suicides are notably higher than that of the remaining population. Similarly, an Australian study found that depression and anxiety were significantly higher in nurses than the rest of the national population. 

Many internet forums consider the question of whether nursing is an unavoidably depressing career. One response was blunt. “The nursing profession has made my already bad depression even worse.” 

2. Teaching

A survey into the job-related stress faced by teachers found that a significant amount of teachers were experiencing burnout, while the amount of teachers experiencing job-related anxiety and depression symptoms was far higher than that of the remaining population.

One individual provides insight into possible reasoning on an online forum. “They always say ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ but unfortunately teaching doesn’t let you refill your cup. You’re constantly asked to top up other people’s cups.”

3. Legal Services

Law is known as being a high-stress work environment with equally high amounts of pressure and pace. ALM conducted a survey on law firm lawyers and staff, with staggering results. 

A huge 64 percent of surveyed professionals admitted to feeling anxiety, with over 30 percent saying they felt depressed. This means a law professional would be three times more likely to suffer mental health disturbance than the average citizen

4. Military Personnel

With over 6000 veterans dying by suicide annually, depression is an unavoidable conversation. The job, while in many ways rewarding, is known for triggering mental health issues from anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder. 

For an individual on the hunt for a positive lifestyle, the military would not be a top contender.

5. Law Enforcement

In a paper published to the National Library of Medicine, the work of law enforcement is said to be associated with depressive symptoms due to “sustained exposures to critical incidents,” in addition to high levels of stress. Police Work can be uniquely urgent, balancing public care alongside disciplinary actions. 

In the same report, over eight percent of those surveyed confirmed that they used antidepressant medication, citing administrative pressure, psychological or physical threats, and lack of support as being the most damaging to their mental health. 

6. Veterinarians

Another field that relies on empathy and care at the forefront of the work, veterinarians are also at risk for depression. In 2015, a study was conducted, revealing that a shocking one in six veterinarians have considered suicide.

While the conversation about depression in the veterinarian field exists online, the general indication is that the reasons are not as straightforward as one might think.

Developing an emotional attachment to an animal that may later die was only one reason. Many previous vet students admitted that student debt, long hours, and high pressure were all factors in their poor mental health. One individual stated, “I don’t encourage anyone to go into this field.”

7. Social Work

A career choice chosen with the hope to help, social work has eventuated into another red flag for those on the mental health watch. In a study of 50 social workers, 70 percent were found to have depression, as confirmed by their general practitioners. 

Another study said that the premise of social work was unavoidably demanding, with violence in the home, family stress, and increased responsibilities all playing a part in an already exhausting job description.

It’s All Mental

Though many careers seem thankless or as if they are entrances to an endless negative void, hope is not all lost. 

Sites like Help Guide offer step-by-step instructions in managing mental health disorders. For those stuck in a less-than-ideal job, the silver lining is that while your career choice may seem unchangeable, your mentality is able to adjust. 

As for the most depressing jobs in America, the criteria is up for debate as time goes on and industries succumb to change.


This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments