Job Leads Can Cause Depression

Finding a job is one of the ultimate life goals, it is possibly the highest honor you could ever reward yourself. So what happens if there is news about job opportunities and openings, would you be happy about it? Not necessarily, says a research carried out by a team at New Vanderbilt University. On the contrary coming to know about new job opportunities can be emotionally torturing for some people resulting in depression.

The study finds that unsolicited job leads is one of the risk factors for depression in some people. In the paper published at Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Lijun Song, assistant professor of sociology and medicine, health and society, and Wenhong Chen of the University of Texas at Austin, used nationally representative data from 2004-2005 to study the effect of unsolicited job leads on depressive symptoms in working-age American adults.

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The study shows that unsolicited job leads not only affect the people who are not employed full-time or people with poor financial condition, but also the people who are employed full time or people with stable financial condition. In both cases, job offers can be depressive, however the mechanisms explaining why it is depressive to the people who are employed full-time has not been studied yet. The researchers speculate that the recipients may perceive the offer as meddling, making them feel less capable of getting that particular job than the ones who already have that kind of job.

Song said, “This kind of negative social comparison is not good for mental health; and simply applying for the job can add to a person’s stress.”

According to the researchers, unsolicited jobs leads are beneficial to the ones who lack full-time jobs for five or more years and needed them most, and most distressing to the ones who are employed full time and needed them least.

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Previously, Song and Chen examined the effect of social support on health and it resulted in inconsistent findings. After examining the employment and financial status of the recipients as well as their reactions to the unsolicited job leads, they were able to find that in this particular scenario, the circumstances of the recipients did explain discrepancies in their research.

They said that unsolicited offers of food or advice about medical might be received quite differently as they have something to do with the survival. Also, unsolicited offers of purely emotional support—like calling a friend out of the blue to say “I love you” — may be received more positively.

Song said the result might look a little different today as she used data from 2004 and would continue to examine the reasons behind the depressive effect she observed more systematically in the future.

The research is surprising yet equally interesting. Only more research will find out the real causes behind this unexpected phenomenon and how it leads to depression.