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Are You Suffering From Depression at Work?

Elizabeth Pearson  |  October 18, 2023

If you’re feeling depression at work, you’re not alone — but it doesn’t mean you’re stuck. Here’s how to escape.

Depression is a prevalent and often hidden challenge that affects millions of  people worldwide. Depression at work can be particularly insidious, impacting not only the individual’s mental health but also their productivity, relationships, and overall well-being.

At work, depression can manifest in various ways and its consequences are far-reaching. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and it can substantially affect an individual’s ability to work and function in a professional setting. The WHO estimates that over 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression, making it a significant global health concern which costs employers in the US approximately $44 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, and healthcare costs. 

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Knowing The Signs Of Depression At Work

How do you tell if it’s your job causing you to feel down at work, or something else entirely? Experts say there are a number of telltale signs you can look for to determine if it’s just a rough patch in your life, or something more serious:

Persistent sadness: Do you have a persistent feeling of sadness or emptiness? At work, this can manifest as a lack of motivation, reduced enthusiasm, and a general sense of hopelessness. This is like the “Sunday scaries” to the 10th degree—where it’s no longer “scary,” but more like a feeling of doom.

Your productivity has plummeted, yet you feel overwhelmed: Depression at work can show up when you feel like it’s challenging to concentrate and complete tasks—even simple ones. This can have a domino effect into decreased productivity, missed deadlines, and mistakes in your work.

You’re tired all the time: Do you feel real physical symptoms such as fatigue and disrupted sleep patterns? This can result in increased absenteeism and presenteeism, where you are physically present but not fully engaged in your work.

Everyone annoys you: People with depression at work may withdraw from social interactions, both within and outside the workplace. If you’re suffering from depression, you may find yourself avoiding team meetings, lunches. and other social events. This can often times lead to isolation and strained relationships with your colleagues.

Everything annoys you: Do the littlest things set you off? Depression at work can make you more irritable and prone to anger. This can lead to conflicts with coworkers and supervisors, further exacerbating workplace stress.

You feel trapped: If you constantly feel trapped in your job, like you have no control over your work situation, or limited opportunities for growth it can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and depression.

What to Do If Your Job Is Making You Depressed

Thankfully, there are solutions — you absolutely aren’t stuck. Here’s how to get the help you need, make essential changes, or simply get out and give your body and mind the emotional healing it needs:

Take time to reflect: Set aside time to think about the specific aspects of your job that are causing you stress and depression. Identifying the root causes can help you address them more effectively.

Seek support: Talk to friends, family members, or a mental health professional about your feelings and experiences. Sharing your thoughts and emotions can provide emotional support and a different perspective.

Set boundaries or renegotiate existing boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Ensure you have time for activities and relationships that bring you joy and relaxation outside of work.

Talk to your boss: If feasible, have an open and honest conversation with your supervisor or HR department about your concerns. They may be able to provide solutions or accommodations to alleviate some of the stressors.

Make fun a priority: Prioritize self-care activities, such as exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and hobbies to help manage stress and improve your mental well-being.

Get a new job: Consider whether a change within your current job, such as adjusting your role or responsibilities, is possible and would improve your situation. Alternatively, explore other job opportunities that may align better with your needs and career goals. At a certain point, you may realize you’re trapped in a toxic work situation, and the best possible solution for your career — and your mental health — is to move on. 

Get professional help: If your depression persists or worsens, consider seeking professional help from a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist who can provide guidance, therapy, or medication if necessary.

Depression at work is a complex and pervasive issue — but it doesn’t have to be forever. Knowing the symptoms and understanding the impact of depression at work is the first step toward addressing this challenge. Remember that your mental health should be your priority and it’s okay to take steps to improve your well-being, even if it means making changes in your job or even your entire career path. Recognizing that your job may be contributing to your depression is the first step toward taking control of your situation and getting the support you need. You got this! 


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