10 Best Jobs for People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The best jobs for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are those that make the most use of your strengths. While living with GAD may mean that you have a tendency to worry and overanalyze, it may also mean that you are good at gathering information or investigating problems.

Choosing Your Career Path

The first step to finding the best job for you will of course involve some introspection. What types of jobs have you had in the past? Did you enjoy them or were you good at them? Consider volunteering a few hours a week in a field to see if it might be a good fit for you. There is no sense committing to a career and following through with the necessary education only to discover that you can't stand the work.

Assessing Job Demands

Once you've assessed your personal affinity toward different careers, it is important to also think about the level of stress that you will encounter on the job. While managing your anxiety through medication and/or therapy is critical, as a person living with GAD, it may be helpful also to choose a career without excessively high stress or job demands.

It's likely that some happy medium exists between low and high levels of stress. A 2017 study published in the journal "Women's Health" examined the association of occupation with stress and anxiety among women in India, and found that homemakers had 1.2 times higher anxiety and 1.3 times higher stress than students and women who worked outside the home. This research suggests that working outside the home may have a buffering effect on stress, for women at least.

On the other hand, a 2007 study tested the influence of work stress on depression and anxiety in young adults who were working. In a longitudinal study that took place from 1972 through 2005, it was found that work stress (high workload, extreme time pressure) was related to a twofold risk of major depression or generalized anxiety disorder compared to those without the same job demands, even in people who were previously healthy. This research suggests that learning how to cope with work stress or reducing work stress levels will be helpful as you move forward with your career.

Your Ideal Career

As a person with GAD, your ideal career will likely involve:

  • Mentally engaging work that will help prevent you from worrying obsessively. In other words, if you have a job with too much time on your hands, or without a lot of responsibility, you might find your mind wandering to your worries too often.
  • Work that makes use of your penchant for gathering information. You will likely excel at a job that requires you to investigate, be suspicious, or analyze data or other information to make decisions.
  • Work that gives you separation from what causes you anxiety can also be helpful. Careers in which you work independently often meet this requirement.

As you begin to investigate careers, keep the above points in mind, and also consider the level of job demands, the stress you are likely to face in each role, and how you will cope with it.

1
Private Investigator

Private investigators work to gather evidence.
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Private investigators work in a range of areas including on-the-ground surveillance, corporate investigations, and domestic situations. This role keeps you active but also involves downtime as you prepare summaries of your findings. Similar jobs such as home inspectors, crime scene investigators, or criminal laboratory analysts may be of interest.

2
Fitness Trainer

Fitness trainer can be a good job for people with GAD.
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As a fitness trainer, you will help individuals learn how to use gym equipment and set up a fitness training plan. This job requires you to be physically fit yourself, which may also help to keep your anxiety regulated. Other jobs in the same field may be of interest, such as nutritionist or dietitian, that will make use of your perfectionist tendencies while also allowing you to become knowledgeable about healthy lifestyle habits.

3
Counselor/Psychologist

Counselors with GAD can be helpful to others.
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As a counselor or psychologist, you will be able to help others going through mental health issues. Given that you have experienced these yourself, you are in a good position to be empathetic and have an understanding of what your patients are experiencing. This role may also give you more insight into your anxiety.

4
Massage Therapist

Massage therapist can be a good career option if you have GAD.
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Working as a massage therapist is generally a low-stress environment. The combination of physical and mental work will also keep your mind busy and reduce the chance of worries bothering you during your workday. The chance to chat with clients may also take your mind off of other concerns, and you may find that the act of doing massages is relaxing in and of itself.

5
Professor/Researcher

University professor might be your calling if you live with GAD.
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If you like school and don't mind extended post-graduate education, consider a job as a college or university professor. This role gives you the chance to do in-depth research on a topic that interests you, while also providing a break from the monotony of sitting at a desk as you teach college or university classes. This job involves speaking in public, so you will want to make sure you overcome any stage fright related to your anxiety disorder.

6
Teacher

Teachers and coaches with GAD can be helpful to students.
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Similar to a professor, being a teacher gives you a balance or prep time and classroom time, which doesn't allow a lot of time for unnecessary worrying. Teachers also must be knowledgeable on a number of subjects, which will allow you to make use of your desire to gather information on different topics.

7
Plumber

Plumbers work with their hands but also their minds.
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Jobs that allow you to work with your hands but also require you to think are excellent if you have GAD. Plumbers, or other tradesman such as mechanics, must diagnose problems and do repairs. This process of investigation and solutions fits well with your tendency to work through issues from all directions.

8
Wine Sommelier

Wine sommelier is an interesting career option if you have GAD.
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If you have not heard of a wine sommelier, this person is responsible for gathering knowledge on a wide range of wines and sharing this information with the public as they make their wine selections. Other careers that are similar, such as those in the floral industry, allow you to become an expert on a topic and share that knowledge with others. These jobs also tend to be low stress with low time pressure, which is helpful when you live with GAD.

9
Electrical Engineering

Electronics engineers can work despite anxiety.
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Jobs that require you to design or engineer can also be a good fit if you live with GAD. Electrical engineering, architecture, and similar careers require a variety of skills and are mentally engaging enough to keep your mind off your worries.

10
Emergency Room Nurse

Emergency room nurses are busy throughout their shifts.
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While this job might not fit the "low stress" mantra, the fast-paced nature of the work can be good if you are able to set aside your anxiety on the job. If the pace of an emergency room seems too much for you to handle, consider another public-facing job that keeps you busy, such as a pharmacy technician.

A Word From Verywell

Regardless of the career that you choose, remember to have a back-up plan in place. Perhaps begin by working part-time if possible, to ensure that the job is a good fit. As you work, try to build up an emergency fund, so that if anxiety becomes overwhelming, you won't be tied to a job that you can't leave, even if only for a temporary absence. Also explore strategies for helping you cope with GAD at work.

Sources:

Patel PA, Patel PP, Khadilkar AV, Chiplonkar SA, Patel AD. Impact of occupation on stress and anxiety among Indian women. Women Health. 2017;57(3):392-401.

Melchior M, Caspi A, Milne BJ, Danese A, Poulton R, Moffitt TE. Work stress precipitates depression and anxiety in young, working women and men. Psychol Med. 2007;37(8):1119-1129.