Middle-management: This is when you're most likely to feel depressed in your career

 
Sarah Spickernell
Follow Sarah
Middle-managers have demands heaped on them from above (Source: Getty)
It won't be your first job that creates the lowest moments in your career, and nor will reaching the top of the ladder bring with it the biggest stresses and anxieties.
It's the middle bit that's usually the worst, according to new research published in the journal Sociology of Health & Illness.
Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health looked at a survey of over 20,000 people in the US aged 18 and over, and compared stress-related mental illness with career progression.
People were placed into one of three categories – owners or self-employed people earning a salary greater than $71,500 (£45,707); managers and supervisors, who occupied executive, administrative or managerial positions; and workers.
They found that people in middle management or supervisor positions were twice as likely to suffer anxiety or depression as those above or beneath them. Overall, 18 per cent of managers reported symptoms of depression, compared to 12 per cent of those being supervised.
"We chose to focus on depression and anxiety because the average age of onset is older than age 18, and these disorders are likely to arise after entry in the workforce," explained Katherine Keyes, one of the lead researchers.

Sandwiched in the middle

The reason why people in the middle face such difficulties, according to the researchers, is that they have big demands heaped on them from above but they are given little opportunity to make significant decisions.
Lisa Bates, another researcher involved, said the results highlighted the need for future population health research to consider not just a person's socioeconomic status when considering the effect of a person's social standing on mental illness, but also the type of job they have.
Standard measures are most readily available, but can mask important complexity in the relationship between social class and population health.

Related articles