PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE FUENTES/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES
If your job’s driving you crazy, don’t stick around too long: Staying in a gig that makes you miserable now could hurt your health later, new research from Ohio State University suggests.
In the study, people who reported greater levels of dissatisfaction with their jobs when they were in their 20s and 30s scored lower on measures of overall mental health by the time they hit their 40s, compared to those who had been consistently happy with their work.
They were also 66 percent more likely to experience trouble sleeping and 64 percent more likely to be diagnosed with an emotional disorders like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
While the study started analysing guys when they were in their 20s, it’s likely that older men dissatisfied with their job may face similar effects, too.
It’s not so surprising that spending 8 hours every day in a job you hate can tank your mood and rev up your stress, study coauthor Jonathan Dirlam says, Ph.D.(c).
But the researchers also discovered that unhappiness with your job can take a physical toll on your body, too, Dirlam says.
Those with low job satisfaction were more likely to suffer from 13 different health complications—including frequent colds and sinus problems—than those who enjoyed their jobs.
Elevated stress levels can weaken your immune system, he says.
In fact, one study found that high job stress was associated with a lower white blood cell count, which can leave you more vulnerable to infections.
The good news: Even if you hate your job now, you’re not destined to be miserable later on.
When participants experienced an upswing in job satisfaction—say, if they switched jobs or moved to a different position—they improved their mental and physical health scores in their 40s.
If you do decide to quit a job you’ve hated for years, don’t wait: The mental and physical effects of job dissatisfaction are most evident in people who’ve hated their jobs for at least 4 to 5 years, says Dirlam.