Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults each year. For many people with anxiety, holding down a job can be challenging. Anxiety symptoms like excessive worry, panic attacks, and fear of social situations can make work difficult and stressful. However, there are many jobs suitable for people with anxiety, especially with some accommodations and adjustments. Understanding your anxiety triggers, making self-care a priority, and finding an accepting work environment are key to managing anxiety at work. With proper treatment and support, many people with anxiety are able to find fulfilling careers that work with their mental health needs.
What are the most common types of anxiety disorders?
Some of the most prevalent anxiety disorders include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – Excessive and difficult to control worry about everyday things. Physical symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, and sleep issues.
Social Anxiety Disorder – Intense fear of social situations and potential scrutiny or embarrassment. Can make day to day interactions extremely stressful.
Panic Disorder – Recurring and unexpected panic attacks featuring heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and terror. Often accompanied by agoraphobia or fear of being unable to escape situations.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Persistent obsessive thoughts and compulsive ritualized behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety. Examples include excessive hand washing, cleaning, and checking.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Lasting anxiety caused by traumatic events like assault, disaster, or combat. Triggers intense “fight or flight” reactions.
Specific Phobias – Irrational fear of specific objects or situations such as heights, animals, or flying. Leads to avoidance behavior.
Treatment typically involves therapy, medication, or both. Finding the right management plan makes working with anxiety much more achievable.
How can anxiety impact someone’s ability to work?
For those with anxiety disorders, symptoms can interfere with job performance and satisfaction in many ways:
– Difficulty concentrating, focusing, learning new skills
– Fear of workplace social events and interactions
– Avoidance of meetings, speaking up, or collaborating
– Increased errors or accidents due to poor focus
– Calling out sick frequently due to mental health issues
– Arriving late or leaving early to avoid crowds
– Panic attacks at work
– Inability to complete tasks or meet deadlines
– Conflicts with supervisors or co-workers
– Refusing promotions or career advancement
– Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
Anxiety sufferers may self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, or other unhealthy coping mechanisms. Burnout, depression, and isolation are common without proper treatment and support.
What types of jobs tend to be unsuitable for people with anxiety?
Some work environments and roles tend to be especially challenging for those with anxiety:
Public speaking/performing – Jobs like teaching, politics, acting, music and live events. Being on stage or “on display” induces anxiety.
Customer service – Retail, hospitality, food service. Interacting with impatient strangers can be stressful.
High-risk, dangerous jobs – Police, firefighting, construction. High-pressure situations may induce panic.
Medical fields – Doctors, nurses. Making life or death decisions is anxiety-provoking.
Sales – Pushy cold-calling and quotas add stress. Rejection sensitivity makes prospects daunting.
Open office environments – Noisy spaces with constant social interaction causes overwhelm.
Inflexible schedules – Rigid corporate jobs with long, forced hours. Causes burnout and work dread.
Isolating roles – Remote work or solo assignments. Lack of social contact can worsen anxiety.
Understanding personal triggers is key. Jobs with exposure to specific phobias should also be avoided.
What are some ideal jobs for people struggling with anxiety?
While anxiety can make any job more challenging, some careers tend to be a better fit:
Working from home – Remote options allow people with anxiety to work in comfortable, familiar settings without a stressful commute. Freelance work is also an option.
Flexible schedules – Jobs where workers can set their own hours and pace like contract or consulting work. Allows for mental health breaks when needed.
Repetitive tasks – Administrative work, data entry and other routine jobs. Familiar duties are predictable and low stress.
Working with animals – Veterinarian, animal care, training and grooming. Animals can have a calming effect.
Bookkeeping and accounting – Focusing on numbers and spreadsheets is methodical. Introverted with limited social demands.
Computer programming and tech – Technical solo work with the option to telecommute. Logical systems are comforting.
Art, design, writing – Creative expression can be therapeutic. Freelance work may be possible.
Social services – Psychologist, counselor, health educator. Helping others can boost wellbeing.
Finding a position that suits your needs and allows open communication about anxiety is ideal.
What types of workplace accommodations can help employees with anxiety?
There are many ways employers can support staffers with anxiety disorders:
Flexible scheduling – Adjusting start and end times or allowing remote work. Provides control over environment.
Job restructuring – Re-assigning minor tasks that are anxiety triggers.
Workspace adjustments – Allowing a private office, dividing wall or noise cancelling headphones.
Regular breaks – Short breaks to do deep breathing, meditate or take medication as needed.
Modified attendance – Permitting work from home during periods of high anxiety.
Counseling referrals – Access to free/subsidized mental health services.
Employee support groups – Peer discussion groups to share coping strategies.
Training and coaching – Teaching managers how to recognize and respond to anxiety issues.
Reasonable accommodations make work much more feasible for those with anxiety issues.
What self-care tips can help manage anxiety while working?
Using personal coping skills and wellness practices goes a long way:
– Take medications as prescribed. Work with doctors to adjust as needed.
– Attend therapy and learn cognitive behavioral techniques for staying calm under stress.
– Avoid excessive caffeine and make sure to eat regular, nutritious meals.
– Exercise daily to boost mood-enhancing endorphins.
– Get enough sleep each night.
– Reduce alcohol which can worsen anxiety.
– Try yoga, deep breathing, meditation or visualization exercises.
– Take regular screen breaks to avoid burnout.
– Identify triggers and manage them proactively – noise cancelling headphones, solo workspace etc.
– Use a planner to track deadlines and stay organized.
– Maintain work-life balance and make time for hobbies and socializing. Don’t isolate.
– Confide in trusted co-workers or manager about your anxiety challenges.
– Set manageable goals each day and reward yourself for completing them.
Self-care reduces anxiety symptoms and boosts overall work performance.
How should you address anxiety and mental health conditions during a job interview?
Navigating interviews with anxiety requires research and preparation:
– Research typical interview questions and practice responses out loud. Being familiar with questions helps lower stress reactions.
– Rehearse stress management techniques like deep breathing or positive self-talk beforehand.
– Be prepared to address work gaps or frequent past job changes caused by anxiety. Focus on what you learned from the experiences.
– If anxiety visibly manifests during interview through shakiness, sweating, stuttering etc. – it’s ok to acknowledge it. “I apologize for any nervousness, I do deal with some anxiety but I’m actively managing it.”
– Ask about company culture and attitudes towards mental health. Does the employer offer counseling benefits or wellness programs?
– Frame anxiety in terms of strengths – diligence, empathy, creativity etc. “My anxiety gives me strong attention to detail and motivation.”
– Be prepared to discuss medication/treatment plans and any on-the-job accommodations that could help.
– Know your rights. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against candidates with disabilities or mental health conditions.
Addressing anxiety proactively and asking the right questions helps find a healthy employer fit.
What are some examples of good jobs for people with social anxiety?
Social anxiety makes roles requiring extensive public interaction challenging. More suitable jobs include:
– Graphic designer – works independently manipulating images and designs on computers.
– Medical records technician – processes and codes documents in an office setting. engages with patients. Minimal public speaking.
– Truck driver – spends long periods alone on open roads delivering goods.
– Lab technician – conducts medical tests and experiments in a controlled lab environment.
– Computer systems administrator – installs software, manages networks and performs troubleshooting remotely. Limited small talk.
– Mechanical engineer – uses math and science skills to design machines and systems. More solitary work.
– Forensic science technician – collects crime scene evidence and analyzes materials in a lab. Works independently behind the scenes.
– Tool and die maker – builds tools, dies and prototypes based on specifications. Usually works alone using machines and tools.
– Pharmacy technician – prepares medications under pharmacist supervision. Some patient interaction but work is largely technical.
Leveraging skills while minimizing triggers helps manage social anxiety at work.
What types of anxiety medication can help manage symptoms while working?
Some medications commonly prescribed for work-related anxiety include:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – Block reabsorption of serotonin. Examples are escitalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine. Improves mood and reduces worry.
Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) – Block reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine. Examples are venlafaxine and duloxetine. Improves focus and energy.
Benzodiazepines – Alters GABA neurotransmitters. Examples are clonazepam, lorazepam, diazepam. Provides rapid relief for panic attacks.
Beta blockers – Blocks adrenaline’s effects on the body. Examples are propranolol and atenolol. Lessens physical anxiety symptoms like shaking and sweating.
Buspirone – Activates serotonin receptors. Helps treat generalized anxiety. Takes 2-3 weeks to start working.
Hydroxyzine – Antihistamine that affects serotonin and opioids. Used for generalized and social anxiety.
Always consult a doctor to find the right medication and dosage for your individual needs. Therapy is recommended along with medication.
While anxiety can present challenges in the workplace, many people are able to manage their symptoms and thrive at rewarding jobs. Seeking treatment, utilizing self-care strategies, communicating with employers, and finding the right environment and position can set you up for success. With perseverance and properly managed anxiety, you can achieve your career goals. The most suitable jobs provide a low-stress environment with flexibility and understanding around mental health needs. Don’t let anxiety hold you back – discover how you can make work work for you.