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March 2, 2023
How to Manage Your Depression at Work
Written by: Lauren Drake
Carrying the weight of depression can make work feel like an insurmountable challenge, one of the hardest things to pile on top of an already difficult day. It can be hard to find the energy to focus on anything else when you’re feeling down, and it can be hard to explain to your boss why you’re struggling. But pulling through and managing your depression at work is possible—and important.
Let's be real, you're more than your productivity. You matter on a human level, and your worth isn't based on what you do or how well you do it. But if you're finding it hard to show up or do your best at work because of depression, it can help to have a few strategies in your back pocket.
Your Depression At Work
Depression is more than just feeling down or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that can have a profound effect on every aspect of your life, including your work.
While it’s normal to experience some level of stress and anxiety at work, if you’re struggling with clinical depression, you may find it hard to function day-to-day. Depression can make it difficult to concentrate, complete tasks, and interact with co-workers. In severe cases, it can lead to absenteeism and job loss.
The first step to getting treatment is to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression. If you’re experiencing any of the following, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional for help:
- Feeling persistently sad or down
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, or anxious
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering things
There is a difference between clinical depression and work-induced depression. Clinical depression is a mental health condition that requires treatment from a mental health professional. Work-induced depression is caused by stressors at work, such as long hours, unrealistic deadlines, or a toxic work environment.
Depression symptoms may even affect your work without you realizing it. These symptoms can include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Decreased productivity
- Increased absenteeism
So how do you know if your depression is interfering with your work? If you’re struggling to keep up with your usual workload, or you’re noticing a decline in the quality of your work, it may be time to talk to your boss or HR department. It’s also important to keep an eye on your absenteeism. If you’re missing more days of work than usual, or you’re calling in sick more often, that’s a red flag that something might be wrong.
How To Manage Depression At Work
There are a few things you can do to manage depression at work:
- Meditate or do some form of relaxation exercise before work. This can help to clear your mind and ease anxiety.
- Get the proper amount of sleep. Depression can worsen if you're sleep deprived, so make sure to get enough rest. However, depression can also make you want to oversleep or sleep too often, which can worsen symptoms too. Find a healthy sleep routine and do your best to stick with it.
- Eat healthily. Eating nutritious meals can help improve your mood and give you more energy.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. These can make depression worse and can be addictive.
- Exercise. Physical activity can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
- Take breaks during the day. Step away from your work to take a walk, read, or just relax for a few minutes.
- Connect with friends and family. Talking to loved ones can help you feel supported and loved.
- Seek professional help. If your depression is severe, therapy or medication may be necessary.
Should I Tell My Boss Or Coworkers About My Depression?
There is no easy answer to this question. You may want to confide in someone at work if you feel comfortable doing so and you think it would be helpful. However, you are not obligated to tell anyone about your diagnosis.
If you do decide to tell someone at work, choose someone you trust and who you think will be supportive. You may also want to speak with your human resources department to find out what your workplace's policies are regarding mental health.
You may want to consider discussing your depression with your boss or coworkers if:
- You feel like your work performance is suffering.
- You’re having difficulty completing tasks.
- You’re missing work frequently.
- Your depression is impacting your ability to function at work.
You may not want to discuss your depression with your boss or coworkers if:
- You don’t feel comfortable sharing personal information.
- You’re worried about how they may react.
- You’re worried about how it may affect your job.
What's The Difference Between Someone Struggling With Symptoms Of Depression At Work And Someone With A Diagnosed Depressive Disorder Asking For Specific Accommodations?
Someone who is struggling with symptoms of depression at work may not be able to concentrate, have difficulty completing tasks, or feel unmotivated. They may also experience changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
Someone with a diagnosed depressive disorder may need specific accommodations in order to be successful at work. For example, they may need flexible hours, a reduced workload, or more time off. It's essential to speak with a mental health professional to determine what accommodations would be best for you.
What Are Some Coping Skills For Depression?
There are many coping skills that can help with depression. Some coping skills include:
- Identifying and challenging negative thoughts.
- Spending time with supportive people.
- Staying physically active and eating a healthy diet.
- Setting realistic goals and breaking up large tasks into smaller ones.
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.
Depression, Burnout, and a Path Forward
It may be hard to imagine how depression could lead to burnout, but it is a very real problem for many people. Depression can also have a very physical effect where it literally requires more effort and energy to do even basic tasks. This can lead to a vicious cycle of absenteeism, poor performance, and contributes to burnout.
Acknowledge your depression and take steps to manage it, and you'll be on your way to avoiding burnout. Depression is a serious illness, but it is treatable. There are many resources available to help you manage your depression and stay on track at work. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your supervisor, Human Resources, or a mental health professional. With the right support, you can overcome your depression and be successful at work.
The first step is acknowledging that you have depression and that it is affecting your work. This can be a difficult thing to do, but it is an important step in getting the help you need. Once you have acknowledged your depression, you can start to take steps to manage it.
There are many ways to manage depression, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some people find that therapy, medication, and self-care help them to manage their depression. Others find that they need to make lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
Whatever approach you take, it is important to stick with it. It may take some time to find what works for you, but don't give up. Depression is a treatable illness, and with the right help, you can overcome it.