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Depressed and anxious—what's going on with middle managers in the U.S.?

Depression is a serious and often misunderstood mental health condition that affects an estimated 16 million adults in the U.S. When feelings of sadness, loneliness, guilt and hopelessness dominate and color one's everyday life, it can be difficult to impossible to function normally.

For working adults who struggle with depression, the condition can interfere with their ability to concentrate, think clearly, take in and process information and make decisions. Add to these problematic side effects a lack of sleep, feelings of low self esteem and loss of energy and it's easy to understand why many adults who struggle with depression may also experience performance problems at work.

A recent study that was published in the journal Sociology of Health & Illness revealed interesting findings of the link between depression and an employee's "position of power in the labor market." For the study, 22,000 full-time U.S. workers were surveyed and asked a series of questions aimed to gauge levels of anxiety and depression as related to their work.
Study participants included business owners, managers, supervisors and general workers. Based on their responses, the study's findings indicate that both supervisors and managers are more likely to struggle with and/or develop both depression and anxiety. In fact, employees in supervisor and managerial roles reported experiencing depression at a rate of 19 percent and 16 percent whereas 12 percent of owners and 11 percent of workers admitted the same.

Additionally, at 11 percent and seven percent, supervisors and managers were also more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders or bouts of anxiety than owners and workers who reported suffering from similar conditions at rates of two and five percent.

Based on the study's findings, researchers deduced that middle managers in the U.S. labor market are among the most stressed, depressed and anxious of all employees. Most likely, the prevalence of these mental health conditions is directly related to the lack of control and power and high accountability that both supervisors and managers often experience in their daily work lives.

Source: The Washington Post, "The perilous plight of middle managers: Exploitation, domination and depression," Ariana Eunjung Cha, Aug. 20, 2015

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