A feeling of powerlessness is a universal cause of job stress. When you feel powerless, you're prey to depression's traveling companions, helplessness and hopelessness. You don't alter or avoid the situation because you feel nothing can be done.
Secretaries, waitresses, middle managers, police officers, editors and medical interns are among those with the most highly stressed occupations — marked by the need to respond to others' demands and timetables, with little control over events. Common to this job situation are complaints of too much responsibility and too little authority, unfair labor practices and inadequate job descriptions. Employees can counteract these pressures through workers' unions or other organizations, grievance or personnel offices, or more commonly, by direct negotiations with their immediate supervisors.