Let's open by saying, depression is the worst. Life is already hectic and stressful enough without also having to deal with that stuck-in-the-mud (or worse, quicksand) feeling that is so often a part of depression. Dealing with that at a job that just isn't right for you? No thanks. Being able to accommodate whatever your particular issues are makes life a little easier. Finding work that relieves rather than adds to the weight you carry is a major step in the right direction.
What makes a job the right fit?
Some people thrive on pressure. They love big stakes and a fast pace. These folks find a lot of success as stock traders on Wall Street, air traffic controllers and even restaurant owners. Stress makes them work better, faster and smarter. But if you're dealing with depression, a panic disorder and/or anxiety (since these all often walk hand in hand with each other), jobs like that will leave you curled up in the fetal position on the floor. It's not an over-exaggeration to say that kind of environment would feel like torture for you.
What you need are calm, quiet jobs with the comforting structure that routine and order provide. The best jobs for people with depression are not driven by tight deadlines, and they don't deal with large crowds or involve noisy environments. Better yet are jobs and careers that involve something you're already passionate about and love to do. Because when you're going through a depressive episode, being able to look forward to going into work might be the only thing that helps you get out of bed in the morning.
5 jobs for people with depression.
Ah, the bookworm's delight: the library. Row after row of essays and cookbooks and tales of adventure. Libraries are always cool places to hang out, and librarian might be one of the best jobs for people with depression. After all, "library" is synonymous with "quiet," and it's certainly not an environment prone to stressful emergency situations. Being surrounded by books and book lovers can also put the most anxious of introverts at ease as well. Now if you want to be a reference librarian, you will need to pursue a degree, but some general staffing positions don't have that requirement. Bonus: one of the common perks of the gig is not having to pay a charge for overdue books.
Average salary: $24,000 for staff, $56,000 for those with a degree.
2. Meals on Wheels delivery driver.
When you feel bad, reaching out to help someone else feel good really does have a positive effect on your own mental state. Some positions in the care or service fields, such as nursing, are not the best jobs for people with depression since they deal with quite serious, heavy and stressful situations. But there are other options, like delivering food for Meals on Wheels, that are a lovely alternative. Bringing food to home-bound folks (often the elderly) gets you out of your house and, even better, out of your own head. Depression can be worsened by isolation, and being depressed can cause you to self-isolate, catching you up in an unhealthy cycle. Bringing food to and spending a bit of time with others who may also be experiencing isolation can make the day a little brighter for both of you.
Average salary: $38,000
The freelancer's lifestyle isn't for everyone. It's very much an eat what you kill situation, and that can be stressful. However, it's a lifestyle you can develop slowly, building your business on the side, not quitting your day job until you've built up a steady clientele base. If you have a marketable skill you'd like to leverage into a career that lets you work from home or while traveling, freelancing is something to definitely pursue. It can get a little lonely, but there are often local coworking spaces available or little cafes to use as a kind of pop-up office. In fact, being able to work from anywhere at any time can give you the opportunity to seek out new communities of folks to socialize with. Not having to husband your energy for another grinding day at the office might mean you've got more energy to devote toward finding and spending time with friends.
Average salary: Full-timers can make anywhere from $20,000 and up.
If working with plants is your thing, everything from farms and farmers market food stands to plant nurseries and flower shops can totally work for you. One of the loveliest jobs for people with depression is florist. Working in a florist's shop means being surrounded by all the pretty smell-goods you could ask for and creating beautiful bouquets and other arrangements every single day. If you're able to handle something busier, look for shops that also do weddings. Most florists also have delivery services and may have delivery positions available as well — which would mean actually getting paid to hand people those gorgeous happy gifts.
Average salary: $28,000
If you love the idea of teaching, but can't quite handle the rigors of a classroom (or negotiating the politics of the education system), tutoring could work for you. Tutors are engaged by private clients, companies or organizations in a variety of subjects. If you think it's just for kids needing a little help with algebra, think again. An exec planning to travel overseas for business might want to learn some of the language and culture of where he's going. A company with a batch of new hires that need to be certified might hire you to be available to assist. Basically, whether you're good at languages or math, and you love helping others learn, tutoring could totally be for you.
Average salary: $27,000
5 jobs for people with depression to avoid.
Nurses are amazing. They deal with the sick, the wounded, the dying, and they do that every day. Long hours and an intense workload both physically and emotionally demanding, however, means anyone dealing with depression will be on the fast track to burn out. Still want to help people? Try volunteering. Homes for the elderly, for example, often welcome folks who want to come in and just keep their residents company.
No one does hot, crazy and crowded quite like the foodservice industry. The hours are long, the work physical and taxing, and when it comes to customers and their food, things can get intense. If you're not up to running with the needle often in the red, this is for sure not the type of work for you. There are slower paced options, like a little cafe or tea room, but even those require a moderate degree of socialization you might find taxing. Love to cook or bake? A side business selling your goods could be better for you. You can keep it to a scale and a pace that doesn't stress you out.
3. Social work.
Helping people can feel good, yes, but social work is notoriously stressful, leading even mostly happy people deep into depression. Social workers step into some truly awful situations, and workloads can be intense as well. If you'd like to do something in the social work or legal sphere, check out a clerk's position. Dealing with records and forms will be less draining for you, while still letting you play a part in helping folks through some rough situations.
Being in sales means always being "on," ready to engage with and draw in potential customers at any and every opportunity. There's a reason this line of work attracts so many extroverts. It's a showman's gig. But that high degree of engagement is exactly what rules out these kinds of jobs for people with depression. That level of energy can be super difficult to maintain on a daily basis.
5. Office manager.
Any kind of leadership position has a lot of responsibilities and expectations to manage and meet. If you're not comfortable with the idea of dealing with all of that on a daily basis, let alone all the aspects of team management (and discipline) also involved, this isn't for you. And that's okay. Not everybody needs to a manager to be, you know, a boss.
Tips for working with depression.
• Know your limits.
Most of us are guilty of taking on too much, saying yes when we're not really feeling it, letting ourselves become over-committed and overworked. Burnout is bad for anyone, but if you suffer from depression, then the road back from that is even longer and far rougher. Learn to keep an eye on how you're feeling and what your energy levels are on a daily basis. And learn when to say "I just can't do any more today."
• Know your triggers.
These can come in any number of forms, from the emotional and psychological to the physical. Our surroundings affect all of us, but if you suffer from depression, your environment is something you need to be extra aware of. Police it as you're able. Just as someone who deals with migraines learns to be wary of strong smells that could trigger a headache, dealing with depression means avoiding energy-draining situations such as loud crowds or stressful offices or jobs.
• Learn to manage anxiety.
Along with knowing what you can and can't handle (and why), managing that low-level background anxiety so many people with depression also deal with is a necessary survival skill. Managing your stress levels will help keep that anxiety from blooming into a full-on attack. Breathing exercises, tips and tricks from meditative practices, positive self talk and cultivating a support network are all healthy, effective ways to pull the reins in on your anxiety.
• Focus on self-care, at work and at home.
If you need a quieter place to work or maybe a sun lamp during the darker winter months, ask! Reasonable accommodations can be made to help folks with any issue perform better at work. And if your company won't work with you? Then you don't have to work for them. A better-fitting job really is out there. Which leads to...
• Prioritize yourself.
Don't be afraid to leave a "good" job if it stresses you out, or in any way exacerbates your depression. "Sticking with it" isn't worth the toll that takes on your mental well being. Period.
Dealing with mental health issues isn't easy. Taking agency over your environments, at work as well as at home, can have such a big impact. When it comes to jobs for people with depression, finding the right fit is the difference between just getting by and actually feeling engaged with the world, between just surviving and really feeling like you're living. The right job for you is out there. And you'll feel much better when you find it.