Feeling sad, exhausted, cranky, low energy, or empty are all signs that you might be struggling with depression. If you have depression, you are far from alone. Over 19 million adults in the United States, or about 7.8% of the population, have at least one major episode related to depression in a given year. Types of depression include major depressive disorder, clinical depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Depression and Anxiety on the Job
With one in 10 Americans reporting experiencing depression, and with an estimated 31% of all adults experiencing an anxiety disorder at some point in their life, workplaces need to understand and offer accommodations for employees experiencing symptoms of these often debilitating mental conditions.
As one of the many adults in this country experiencing depression or anxiety, you may find that your current job does not suit your condition. Even if you like your boss, company, and salary, you may need to adjust the work you currently perform or take steps to find new employment. Employers can do a lot to support employees who struggle with depression or anxiety, but you can also look for positions more supportive of your mental health.
Can Work Exacerbate Depression?
Depression is a clinical mental health condition that is different from sadness, grief, or stress. These experiences can trigger depressive episodes, but depression also makes you more vulnerable to feeling stress, guilt, or sadness more intensely.
Risk factors for depression include:
- Genetics and family history
- Personal biochemistry
Depression is one of the most treatable mental health conditions, with a combination of medication and psychotherapy being the most effective approach for most people. But remaining in a harmful environment can make depression more difficult to treat and increase the severity of symptoms.
One way to manage your depression is to ask for accommodations at work. Another is to find a job that can accommodate your mental health and even improve it.
The Best Jobs for People Who Have Depression
Finding a nontraditional job can balance mental health, improve symptoms, and help you find a better work-life balance. Here are some of the best jobs for someone with anxiety and depression.
- Computer Programmer
- Dog Walker
- Pet Sitter
- Park Ranger
- Small Business Owner
- Data Entry
- Delivery Driver
- Fitness Trainer
Math-minded people — or anyone who loves working with computers — can learn to code, get well-paying entry-level work, and find employment that works best with their mental state. If you prefer to work independently, you can freelance as a programmer. If you work better on large teams, big software companies are always looking to hire programmers.
Many coding jobs can be high-stress with long hours, so it might not be one of the best jobs for people with anxiety. The model for many coders is to work for a large software company for a few years and then branch out into project management, starting a business, freelancing from home, or consulting with other companies. After just a few years of experience, you can find your niche and tailor your employment to your mental health needs.
Making art or exercising your creativity is very satisfying. If you have an interest in this work beyond a hobby, you can make a living with an internet presence and meet people in person. For example, if you knit hats and scarves, you can set up an online store in about a day, create a website, open a few social media accounts to showcase your work, and get a booth at craft fairs or a farmers' market. Alternatively, graphic designers are always in high demand and find steady work either as freelancers or in full-time jobs.
You have the satisfaction of working with your hands during your own hours and feeling satisfied as others admire your skills. There are also meetups and conventions for like-minded people, so you can make friends who understand your struggles and successes.
You can set aside time to care for your mental health while freelancing. This means getting exercise, going to therapy or support groups, and getting enough sleep, making it one of the ideal jobs for depressed people.
Similar to artists and graphic designers, writers enjoy the ability to work in different kinds of settings on an array of projects. Writing typically requires hours of intense focus, which can help block out intrusive or unpleasant thoughts. If you own a laptop, you can also set up and work at a coffee shop or any place with Wi-Fi if you want to be around others.
If you have the proclivity or an interest in writing, the good news is you can find plenty of work through online job boards. These projects can range from copywriting to editing and even transcribing. You can successfully work from home or a co-working space, working hours that suit you, and working for clients you love. Considering these benefits, we consider this one of the best jobs for people with depression.
Spending time with animals can be great for your mental health. Walking dogs gets you outside, offers regular exercise, and allows you to spend time with animals that will be very happy to see you. Dogs, like people, thrive when there is a structure in place. After you gain a steady clientele through either your own efforts or from working with an established company, you will too.
Since dog walking is a relatively stress-free profession, you can work as many or as few hours as you'd like. You can also work seasonally, giving you the time to relax and get psychological support.
Pet sitting gives you quality time with animals that need care and support, including playtime, food, and snuggles. It's a great opportunity for someone who doesn't want to take on too much stress in their work life but still wants to earn steady wages. As with dog walking, pet sitting is one of the best jobs for someone with anxiety and depression.
Taking up a pet sitting can also give you valuable time with animals if you are in a living situation that does not allow pets. Many apartments have strict regulations against animals, you may have a significant other or child who is allergic to animals, or you may not be able to afford to care for a pet on your own. But many people have pets and need help managing their care, which is a great opportunity for you.
Gardening, working in a greenhouse, or even working in the gardening center at a local home supply store are all rewarding jobs for depressed people. Horticulturists work outdoors and get their daily dose of vitamin D, in addition to some exercise. You work with your hands in a field that demands creative solutions. You can establish your own business or work as an employee for a specific company. You can set your own hours or work seasonally.
Working in landscaping or gardening can be hard on your body due to the heavy lifting and specific physical positions you need to hold, so managing your physical health in this line of work is important. Growing beautiful plants or creating lovely gardens can be very rewarding, so if you enjoy the outdoors, horticulture is a good career option.
Reading can be a great form of relaxation, allowing you to get out of your head while enjoying a work of art or learning something new. Working as a librarian means spending time around books and people who love books. You can help children and adults with research, find their next favorite book, or access resources to solve a problem.
If you love history, you can work in the archives section, helping people with research for school projects or genealogy questions. If working with children is more your speed, you can work in the kids’ section and manage reading days or school events. The atmosphere is typically very calm, which makes being a librarian or working in a library two excellent jobs for people with anxiety.
Librarians are important people in schools and the community. This work can be very rewarding for people who love reading and helping others.
Like dog walking and gardening, being a park ranger gets you out into nature, where you are surrounded by beautiful scenery and get regular exercise. Summer internship programs in this field offer free room and board alongside a stipend and can blossom into amazing careers for people with depression.
You will learn survival skills, environmental protection, and forest management, among many other skills. If you become a professional park ranger, you will spend a lot of time by yourself in nature, but you will also work with the public, educating children and adults on preserving parks and being safe outdoors.
Small Business Owner
While an inordinate amount of stress can trigger depressive episodes, positive stress can lead to job satisfaction. If you want more high-energy work or consistent mental stimulation, starting your own business or opening a franchise can be very rewarding. Careers for people with depression tend to be difficult, as not all employers will understand your need to take time off for your mental health. As a business owner, you work for yourself and can set aside as much time as you need.
You will work with specific clients, the public, or other businesses. You can work from home, in a small office, or in a franchise operation. You can go against the trend of cookie-cutter products and services by starting your own company, whether it is a retail establishment, marketing and copywriting agency, design service, or another business.
You can set your own hours, although you may work more than in other jobs, particularly in the early stages. But if you start a small business, your work is often more personally fulfilling than if you were working for someone else.
Landscapers provide care and maintenance to clients' gardens and lawns. While their work assuredly falls under the umbrella of manual labor — including operating an assortment of equipment to mow, trim, prune, rake, and weed — it can be less laborious than construction. Landscapers generally work in teams to efficiently water plants and add fertilizer as needed. And though working within a team can feel daunting, most of your day will be spent wearing noise-canceling headphones and engaging in monotonous work.
The positive is your time and energy are rewarded with direct physical results that you can see, yes, but also touch. There aren't too many positions anymore that provide that baseline satisfaction. Over time, your position can include the design, construction, and maintenance of landscape features. For example, some landscapers will install features like stonework, water fountains, outdoor lighting, and sprinkler systems.
It's hard to beat a position that allows you to be outside all day, especially in a warmer environment, which makes landscapers and other positions in this field ideal jobs for depressed people.
If you have honed your keyboarding skills, have a penchant for lasering in on a specific task, and enjoy working on deadline, you might make an excellent data entry specialist. Best of all, data entry is highly versatile across a number of different industries and usually offers tremendous work-from-home flexibility.
Boiled down to the simplest of terms, data entry positions typically require the individual to enter sensitive information into spreadsheets, databases, or proprietary systems. Most of your time will be spent at the computer verifying that the information you input is correct. You can set off on your own as an independent consultant, or find any number of full-time, part-time, or freelance positions. Thanks to that freedom, as far as careers for people with depression go, it's hard to beat data entry.
If working from home is of paramount importance to you, it's important to know that while some positions require strong communication and interpersonal skills, others will allow you more autonomy and the ability to work remotely. According to the BLS, the top-paying sectors for data entry positions are finance, construction, freight transportation, and the U.S. Postal Service.
It's official: delivery drivers are the backbone of the U.S economy. It's estimated that over 36 million packages are delivered per day in this country, which means there needs to be a nationwide fleet of couriers to make sure all of these packages get delivered on time and in one piece. One thing is abundantly clear — job security for those whose job it is to drop off packages has never looked better.
Working as a delivery driver could be the perfect fit if you find solace in driving. Since every day is different, and you get to determine how much contact you have with others, this position is one best jobs for someone with anxiety and depression. And you can't beat rolling the windows down and being active outside.
A major plus to this job is seeing someone's face light up when you drop off a package they've been patiently waiting for.
Similar to certain data entry jobs, a transcriptionist listens to recorded audio files and types them out into a text format. This profession requires the individual to be accurate, discrete, and able to work quickly and efficiently on deadline, while also having a keen sense of hearing.
It should come as no surprise that these documentation specialists need to be fast typers, with many positions necessitating the person be able to type at least 50 words per minute. In fact, professional transcriptionists usually take two to three hours to transcribe one hour of audio.
Being a transcriber requires patience and serious training. However, these jobs are very flexible in nature, which should be a positive for someone with depression, as you can find remote work that allows you to craft your own schedule. On top of that, you might transcribe recordings of legal, medical, or other topics — and they might even be interesting to listen to! If you don't feel your typing ability is up to par, don't fret, as it's one of the easier things to develop.
While the term 'merchandiser' applies to a broad swath of positions, these jobs can be typically found across the fashion industry. Retail merchandisers ensure that the shelves are stocked with products and display them for customers. They may also be responsible for tracking inventory levels, reporting any issues or shortages to management, and cleaning up displays or folding clothing.
Job opportunities are somewhat declining in this field, as brick-and-mortar stores lose ground to online retail. However, national retail stores like Walmart, Target, and Costco — on top of boutiques and independent stores — still require merchandisers in various roles. You might work with a sales representative to purchase the products, and may interface with customers on occasion, but most of your time will be spent planning logistics and utilizing your marketing know-how.
For that reason, many companies will require job applicants to possess a bachelor's degree in marketing or another relevant discipline.
What's more inspiring than helping someone reach their fitness goals? As a fitness trainer, you'll provide custom workouts, motivation, and instruction for individuals or groups across a range of exercises. You might conduct a class or one-on-one lessons in a gym, health club, or yoga studio. If leading in a group setting sounds too daunting, you won't need to worry, as there is always a demand for personal fitness trainers.
This active environment might bring added stressors, but it might also push you out of your comfort zone in a good way. The education and training required typically vary by type of specialty, but many employers usually prefer to hire individuals with certification or relevant schooling.
Reasonable Job Accommodations for People With Depression
Regardless of the type of job you pursue, you can ask for reasonable accommodations to help your mental health. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been expanded to include psychiatric conditions and mental health, so employees can ask employers for help managing these conditions in the workplace with paid time off and other forms of support.
To ensure healthy, happy employees, a workplace should provide:
- Good working conditions, including enough light, sources of natural light, clean air, and minimal noise or distractions
- The opportunity for employees to feel useful and develop their skills
- Supportive employers or leadership that listens to employee input
- Clear employment expectations and support to meet these expectations
Reasonable accommodations at any job may include:
- Flexible working hours
- Telecommuting options
- Sick leave and other forms of paid time off, including mental health days
- Employee assistance programs (EAPs) and health insurance that covers mental health treatment
- Clear breaks and accommodations for longer breaks as needed
- Quiet spaces away from the rest of the office
These and many other ADA-compliant options should be available upon request. This allows people with depression to work in many careers they wish to pursue, including high-stress jobs. With Joblist’s extensive job posts, we will help you find the perfect opportunity that meets all your needs and enables you to prioritize your mental health!