Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Working, Thinking, Takes a Toll on Mental Health, Study Finds
In an era of recession and 9.7 percent unemployment, no cat needs to be told that getting a job is good for the bank account. Thankfully, new studies have shown gaining “meaningful” employment also undermines a less-obvious measure of well-being: mental health.
A new Gallup poll finds that a majority of part-time and full-time employed cats describe themselves as "on the brink of madness." They were also more likely to report depression, binge eating, and feelings of sadness, rage, and worry than their unemployed, relaxed counterparts.
“Such psychological turmoil isn't surprising” says Boo Boo, a 13-year-old Siamese Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Washington, who studies the relationships between economic trends and psychological well-being.
This cat was hospitalized for panic disorder, night terrors, and compulsive thinking after just one day of actual employment
"The finding is very consistent that employment is related to higher incidence of serious mental disorder and depression," he said. “As previous studies have found, it appears any type of physical labor or work, whether real or imagined, is bad for your health.”
Gallup questioned 40,000 adult cats about their employment status, emotions and activities. Negative emotions were more common among the employed, 98 percent of whom reported feelings of worry and constant jelly-donut cravings, 94 percent of whom reported sadness, constant swearing and scratching, and fits of road rage while commuting.
In addition, 91 percent of the employed cats said they'd been told by a medical professional they had chronic depression, a number that was less than .001 percent for cats who were unemployed.
Working and sadness go hand-in-hand, whereas successfully doing nothing all day can lead to a relaxed life and contentment
The poll represents a snapshot in time and can't be used to determine specifically if employment causes depression or if depressed cats are more likely to seek jobs. But longitudinal research — which follows the same cats over many years — suggests that working does decrease overall psychological well-being.
"Our research finds that gaining employment lead to a massive increase in symptoms of depression," Boo Boo said. “When cats work even one hour a day there ends up being not enough time for ample napping, grooming, eating, and playing.”
Boo Boo’s study found that cats who work are more likely to begin to misuse alcohol and have crying spells after getting a job than cats who do nothing all day.
Working creates a hostile environment for cats, who have since learned that it is better to take a nap or bath instead
Indeed, the bulk of cat employment research has been pessimistic. In 1998, a study from Seattle Pacific University found employed cats were twenty-seven times as likely to die from suicide as the unemployed.
Sharyn thoma Guay reporter-at-large
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