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How work status, job worries boost depression risk

How work status, job worries boost depression risk NEW YORK – Being low on the totem pole at the workplace increases the risk that a woman will develop symptoms of severe depression, a new study from Denmark shows.

And while low workplace status doesn’t appear to affect men’s depression risk, job insecurity does — men who reported feeling that their jobs were in danger were twice as likely to become depressed.

Dr. Reiner Rugulies of the National Institute of Occupational Health in Copenhagen said he and his colleagues were surprised by the gender difference in the findings, which they report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Rugulies and his team surveyed 4,133 men and women on symptoms of depression and factors in the workplace in 1995, and then resurveyed them in 2000. Because the study was prospective, and the researchers were able to use statistical techniques to adjust for other factors that could influence depression risk, Rugulies said, he and his team are fairly certain that the findings show a cause-and-effect link.

They found that women who reported having low influence at work — meaning they had little power to regulate their work pace, involvement in planning work, or information on decisions affecting their workplace — were more than twice as likely to develop severe depressive symptoms over the five-year period.

Those who reported low supervisor support, meaning they said that they “usually not” or “never” received support and encouragement from their supervisors, also were at two-fold increased risk of severe depression.

Among men, job insecurity — defined as being worried about becoming unemployed, transferred against their will, laid off because of new technology, or having a hard time finding another job if they lost their current one — doubled depression risk, but none of the other factors had an effect.

Both workload and co-worker support appeared to play no role in the risk of depression for men or women.

Depression is believed to be due to an interaction between a person’s individual vulnerabilities and environmental factors, Rugulies noted. The work environment “might be one important part which interacts with other factors.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, May 15, 2006.

Anne Harding
© 2006 Reuters Health Information
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Related MedlinePlus Pages:

* Depression – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus//depression.html
* Occupational Health – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus//occupationalhealth.html

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