Part-Time Workers Far More Likely To Be Depressed, Gallup Poll Finds

Around 1 in 6 Americans say that they've been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives. Certain groups are more likely to suffer depression, including the divorced, women, and people between the ages of 45 and 64.

But now a new a new Gallup poll identifies another possible risk factor: working part-time.

Of the 27 million part-time workers in America, 1 in 12 are currently being treated for depression, according to the Gallup poll; that's roughly 50 percent higher than the rate among full-time workers. And the poll found that a whopping 1 in 6 part-time workers has been diagnosed with depression in his or her lifetime, compared to a little over 1 in 10 for their full-time counterparts.

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To save money, employers have increasingly relied on part-time workers since the recession. But the Gallup poll, which interviewed almost a quarter million full-time employees and 66,000 part-timers, points out that this may have an unforeseen cost. Depressed workers, on average, take several extra sick days a year, which in total lost productivity, across the entire workforce, adds up to around $23.2 billion.

Part of the reason that depression rates are higher in the part-time workforce is that 30 percent of those part-time workers wish they were working more, and may be just scraping by on their scant hours. More than 14 percent of part-time workers are under the official poverty level, according to a 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than three times the rate for full-timers.

And the absolute, No. 1, greatest predictor for depression? Poverty.

During the recession and the recovery, far more Americans have fallen into poverty, endured the trauma of a lay off, or shifted to part-time work. This may be why Google searches for "I'm depressed" soared, and still haven't returned to pre-recession levels.

While wealthier countries have higher rates of depression, low-income people in those countries have the highest of them all. When asked by the Gallup pollsters, "Have you ever been told by a physician or nurse that you have any of the following ... depression?," 30 percent of Americans with annual incomes under $24,000 answered yes.

The rate was almost half that for middle-income Americans (annual salaries between $24,000 and $59,000), and at only 13 percent of Americans with incomes higher than $60,000. Some researchers say depression is tied to inequality -- the sense that you're on the bottom of a very high pyramid -- with one paper on the subject, published in BMC Medicine, saying it's possible that "depression is to some extent an illness of affluence."

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Part-Time Workers Far More Likely To Be Depressed, Gallup Poll Finds

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