Discover Magazine:

An interesting study just published examines the rates of clinical depression experienced by workers in different jobs.

It turns out that people involved in ‘Local and Interurban Passenger Transport’ are most likely to be treated for depression. By contrast, those employed in ‘Amusement and Recreational Services’ are less than half as likely to experience it – at least, in Western Pennsylvania, where the research was conducted.

The article questions whether these results are generalizable beyond Western Pennsylvania, but the study’s conclusion that

Industries with the highest rates tended to be those which, on the national level, require frequent or difficult interactions with the public or clients, and have high levels of stress, and low levels of physical activity.

is at least intuitive.

Dealing with riders all day would certainly depress me, but what say you, drivers? Are your colleagues a morose bunch? Is it a naturally depressing job?

18 Replies to “Is Your Driver Depressed?”

  1. The obvious solution is to replace our transit system with an amusement system.

    1. Isn’t that what a lot of the transit fads of the last couple decades have been about: mag-levs, monorails and streetcars. I think that the jury is still out on gondolas: I really want the proponents to be right, but I can’t help worrying that they’ll turn out to be just as bad an idea as each of the previous fads.

  2. So what the study shows is that they’re more likely to be treated for depression. Is there any evidence that people with different careers are equally likely to seek treatment? Or can we just as well say that transit workers who’re depressed are more likely to get the help they need?

    1. Good point. At a minimum, you’d have to normalize for the quality of the employees’ insurance.

      1. Though you couldn’t go much further than that. Trying to estimate the number of people with untreated depression and sorting them by employment type doesn’t sound like the easiest game.

    2. This was my first thought as well looking at the data. I’d like to look through their methodology, since this might be a better demonstration of how access to services (more transit drivers in urban areas equates to more access to mental health services not as easily accessible out in the oil fields of the Dakotas) and the cultural stigma of seeking help in these traditionally masculine, ‘tough’ jobs like coal mining, determines how people in certain occupations get treatment.

  3. For all that I whine about bus driver pay, I have to admit that you couldn’t pay me enough money to do their job.

    1. If a large portion of society shares your feelings — and I do, even though I had a blast answering questions for Metro back when they had actual humans do it — then they’re not paid enough.

      1. As an amplification, the fact that the majority of drivers do their jobs with good humor, patience and respect says a lot about how emotionally resilient they are. The ones who aren’t wash out quickly.

    2. This seems like a good reason to stop whining about it. It’s a high-stress job that requires some real skill to do well. Pay them.

  4. Yet the researcher’s profession (psychiatrist), has a higher suicide rate than city transit operators.

    1. Well,

      “Industries with the highest rates tended to be those which, on the national level, require frequent or difficult interactions with the public or clients, and have high levels of stress, and low levels of physical activity.”

      Psychiatry would be the poster child for this category of work, surely.

  5. There are a lot of issues that bus drivers get at much higher rates then the general population. Damage to shoulders, knees, hips, carpel tunnel, backs (If I had a dollar for every bus driver I knew with a bad disc…)… Depression and anxiety.

    The simple fact is that drivers are pulled in 3 directions at once. 1) To get people where they want to be safely, 2) To get people where they want to be quickly, and 3) To get people where they want to be while not loosing your @#$% because of other people. How would you cope?

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