Working conditions and antidepressant medication use: A prospective study among 18 to 39-year-old municipal employees

Jouni Lahti, Tea Lallukka, Jaakko Harkko, Hilla Nordquist, Minna Mänty, Olli Pietiläinen, Ossi Rahkonen, Anne Kouvonen

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This study aimed to examine the associations of perceived physical and mental working conditions with subsequent antidepressant medication purchases among 18-39-year-old municipal employees. Survey data collected in 2017 among employees of the City of Helsinki (n=5897, response rate 51.5%) were linked to register data on psychotropic medication purchases (82% gave permission to register linkage). The analysis included 3570 women and 972 men. We used three single-item measures of working conditions: perceived mental and physical strenuousness of work, and time spent in physical work. Covariates included age, gender, marital status, employment status, body mass index, smoking, alcohol use and previous medication. Cox regression analysis was used to calculate hazard ratios (HR) for the first antidepressant medication (ATC class N06A) purchase during a one-year follow-up. Those with mentally strenuous work (HR 1.85) as well as those spending more than four hours in physical work per workday (HR 1.60) had an statistically significantly increased risk of antidepressant medication use when adjusting for age and gender. Further adjustments for covariates attenuated these associations, which however remained statistically significant. Improving working conditions to avoid excess mental and physical workload is likely to be beneficial for preventing mental health problems already among younger employees.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114213
JournalPsychiatry research
Early online date20 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Work demands
  • Young adults
  • Mental health
  • Young employees
  • Depression


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