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Work Depression: How to Take Care of Your Mental Health on the Job

6:11 am 8 May 2021 Jose-Fernandez 0 Comments

If you feel depressed when working, you’re not alone. Sadness, anxiety, loss of motivation, difficulty concentrating, unexplained bouts of crying, and boredom are just a small sampling of the things you may be feeling if you’re experiencing depressive symptoms at work.

Depression impacts over 17 million American adults each year.

And data from the State of Mental Health in America 2021 survey shows that the number of people seeking help for depression increased significantly from 2019 to 2020.

There was a 62 percent increase in people who took the survey’s depression screen — and of those people, 8 in 10 tested positive for symptoms of moderate to severe depression.

When you consider that full-time employees spend an average of 8.5 hours per day working on weekdays and 5.5 hours working on weekends and holidays, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it comes as no surprise that many of them will experience symptoms of depression while on the job.

Read on to find out why work might be triggering depressive symptoms, how to identify the signs, where to get help, and what you can do to start feeling better.

What is work depression?

While a job may not cause depression, the environment may worsen symptoms for people who already live with depression.

“Any workplace or job can be a potential cause or a contributing factor for depression depending on the level of stress and available support at the workplace,” said Rashmi Parmar, MD, a psychiatrist at Community Psychiatry.

According to the World Health OrganizationTrusted Source (WHO), a negative working environment can lead to:

  • mental and physical health concerns
  • absenteeism
  • lost productivity
  • increased substance use

Mental Health America reports that depression ranks among the top three problems in the workplace for employee assistance professionals.

As with any other health condition, Parmar says, awareness and early detection are key.

“Depression is a complex condition with a varied manifestation of thoughts, feelings, and behavior that can affect anyone and everyone, and a variety of work and non-work-related factors might be at play when we consider someone struggling with workplace depression,” she explained.

What are the signs of work depression?

The signs of depression at work are similar to general depressive symptoms. That said, some may look more specific to a workplace setting.

This depression will affect your level of functioning in your job as well as at home, Parmar said.

Some of the more common signs of work depression include:

  • increased anxiety levels, especially when managing stressful situations or thinking about work when you’re away from your job
  • overall feelings of boredom and complacency about your job
  • low energy and lack of motivation to do things, which can sometimes manifest as boredom in tasks
  • persistent or prolonged feelings of sadness or low mood.
  • loss of interest in tasks at work, especially duties that you previously found interesting and fulfilling
  • feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, or overwhelming guilt
  • inability to concentrate or pay attention to work tasks and trouble retaining or remembering things, especially new information
  • making excessive errors in daily work tasks
  • an increase or decrease in weight or appetite
  • physical complaints like headaches, fatigue, and upset stomach
  • increased absences or coming late and leaving early
  • impaired decision-making capacity
  • irritability, increased anger, and poor frustration tolerance
  • crying spells or tearfulness at work, with or without any apparent triggers
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much (like taking naps during regular work hours)
  • self-medication with alcohol or substances

If you’re good at masking or internalizing them, these signs of work depression might not be visible to your co-workers. But there are some symptoms they may be more likely to notice.

According to Parmar, here are some common signs of work depression to be aware of:

  • withdrawal or isolation from other people
  • poor self-hygiene or significant change in appearance
  • late arrival at work, missed meetings, or absent days
  • procrastination, missed deadlines, reduced productivity, subpar performance in tasks, increased errors, or difficulty making decisions
  • seeming indifference, forgetfulness, detachment, and disinterest in things
  • an appearance of tiredness for most or part of the day (may be taking afternoon naps at work)
  • irritability, anger, feeling overwhelmed, or getting very emotional during conversations (may start crying suddenly or become tearful over trivial things)
  • lack confidence while attempting tasks



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