Bad job got you down?
At least you can take some comfort in the fact that you're working--nearly 10 percent of Americans are unemployed right now.
But while a steady job can help keep your bank account healthy, a lousy one can actually destroy your mental health--and a new study shows how it could even be worse for you than not working at all.
If you'd like to take a moment to update your resume, feel free--I'll be here when you're done.
Researchers examined data on more than 7,000 people who were followed for seven years starting in 2001.
The volunteers rated their jobs based on four factors: stress and overall job demands, control over their own work, job security, and whether or not they thought the pay was fair.
Then, they filled out questionnaires that measured levels of depression and anxiety along with overall happiness.
Put it all together, and most of the people who had jobs had better mental health than the ones who didn't--and the ones with the best jobs enjoyed improvements in mental health, moving up an average of three points over the years.
No surprise there.
But the researchers also found that people who worked lousy jobs suffered a long-term decline in mental health... eventually putting them on the same level as the unemployed.
And those who started out with a great job but ended up with a crummy one saw their mental health scores plummet by 5.6 points--enough to cause the kinds of noticeable changes that would have friends worrying about you.
Even worse, their scores were actually lower than those of people who were unemployed for the entire study period.
Other studies have also shown how some job situations can be more stressful than no job at all. One study published last year even found that people suffer more stress when they think they're going to lose their job than they do when they actually lose it.
Maybe it's the weight coming off the shoulders... or maybe it's just the idea of starting fresh.
Whatever the reason, if you're in a dead-end high-stress job or if you're constantly worried about being next on the chopping block, it's pretty clear what you need to do next.
Even in this economy, there are other options out there--and you should make finding them your full-time priority.