20 and 30-year-olds who are generally unhappy with their jobs may experience some health backlash by the time they reach their 40s, new research suggests.
Researchers from The Ohio State University found that happiness on the job (or lack thereof) appears to have the biggest impact on midlife mental health.
They followed the job trajectories of study participants from the time they were 25 up until age 39, sorting them into four groups: consistently lower job satisfaction, consistently high job satisfaction, people whose satisfaction started low but trended higher, and those who started high but declined over the years.
About 45 percent of participants consistently reported feeling lower than “very satisfied” when it came to job satisfaction. Another 23 percent trended downward as the years passed. About 17 percent reported an increase in job satisfaction over time, and only 15 percent were consistently happy at work throughout their 20s and 30s.
Researchers found that those with lower job satisfaction levels throughout their late 20s and 30s had worse mental health compared to those with high job satisfaction levels. Those who initially had high job satisfaction but downwardly decreased over time also had worse health. They were more likely to report depression, sleep problems and excessive worry, and they scored lower on a test of overall mental health.
The majority of people were either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with their job. But even the subtle distinction between ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfied’ had significant effects on health.
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