Good work as the best medicine for depression

“That’s a recipe for depression.” My wife noted when I told her about one of my friends who has been “fortunate” enough to not have to work for the last few years.  He’s in the entertainment industry. He had a few big movie and television projects that generated significant income.  He’s single and he’s really frugal.  So he saved enough money to just “hang out.”  Sure enough, a couple of months after that conversation, my friend called to tell me that he was feeling depressed.
We are not meant to just “hang out.”  We are meant to be productive.  Without work of some kind, most everyone sinks into a lower energy state.  Low energy states lead to depression.
Mitchell, a fortysomething attorney from New London, Connecticut, came to me around that time for career counseling.  He was referred by one of my friends from Old Saybrook who knew Mitchell from high school.  ”He’s hilarious. You’ll love him.” I was told. When I met Mitchell, I didn’t meet the guy that his friend had described. Instead, Mitchell had a serious demeanor and a scrunched up perpetual stress frown. I mentioned that his friend thought he was funny.  ”I used to be.” Mitchell responded. “Now I’m on three types of medication for depression and anxiety.”
In my career counseling work, I am highly practical.  I help clients find new careers and new jobs. But, of course, there is always overlap with work and personal life. Both depression and anxiety seem to be pervasive among those with unhappy work.  
Earlier today, I received an e-mail from an old career counseling client.  She, too, had been semi-depressed when I met her last year and was also on medication.  Her bubbly e-mail about her latest step towards a career that fits her was delightful to see.   Good work is excellent medicine for depression.