Major depressive episodes and work stress: results from a national population survey

Am J Public Health. 2007 Nov;97(11):2088-93. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.104406. Epub 2007 Sep 27.


Objectives: We determined the proportion of workers meeting criteria for major depressive episodes in the past year and examined the association between psychosocial work-stress variables and these episodes.

Methods: Data were derived from the Canadian Community Health Survey 1.2, a population-based survey of 24324 employed, community-dwelling individuals conducted in 2002. We assessed depressive episodes using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

Results: Of the original sample, 4.6% (weighted n=745948) met criteria for major depressive episodes. High job strain was significantly associated with depression among men (odds ratio [OR]=2.38; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.29, 4.37), and lack of social support at work was significantly associated with depression in both genders (men, OR=2.70; 95% CI=1.55, 4.71; women, OR=2.37; 95% CI=1.71, 3.29). Women with low levels of decision authority were more likely to have depression (OR=1.59; 95% CI=1.06, 2.39) than were women with high levels of authority.

Conclusions: A significant proportion of the workforce experienced major depressive episodes in the year preceding our study. Gender differences appear to affect work-stress factors that increase risk for depression. Prevention strategies need to be developed with employers and employee organizations to address work organization and to increase social support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / prevention & control
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace*