Depression in the Workplace

In the workplace today, depression affects concentration, decision-making and interpersonal interactions, as well as reducing energy levels, which can lead to decreased efficiency.

The National Institute of Mental Health mentions that Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in adults aged 15-44 years old and affects about seven percent of U.S. adults per year. According to the Depression Treatment Center, Major Depressive Disorder is also known as clinical depression, which affects people emotionally and biologically and can occur at any age. These statistics lead to an estimated $23 billion in lost productivity per year.

While much has been done to educate and raise awareness regarding this mental health issue, many employees fear that if their boss finds out they suffer from depression their job will be jeopardized.

If you are suffering from depression and are afraid of how it is affecting your job performance, the Provincial Health Services Authority, in conjunction with BC Mental Health and Addiction Services and Simon Fraser University published an ebook with tips for coping.

One coping technique, the study suggests, is to create an action worksheet. Identify problems you are having within the workplace or your personal life that cause depression. Make a list of possible actions and responses to these problems and list advantages and disadvantages to each possible action. Next, pick a course of action to take. The goal of this worksheet is to recognize and change work and personal patterns that lead to continued depression.

The next step is to engage in realistic thinking. When a person suffers from depression it creates negative and distorted thinking. By practicing realistic thinking we learn to see things as they are, to identify depressive thoughts and to create a fair and balanced view that includes both the positive and the negative. Types of depressive thoughts include overgeneralization, thinking only in extremes, catastrophizing small disappointments into large disasters, labeling yourself as an idiot or loser, and perfectionism.

Once these thoughts have been recognized, the goal is to continuously practice changing these thoughts. Not to flip the thoughts to positive or optimistic viewpoints, but rather to find a balance between positive and negative and recognize the middle ground of reality.

Lastly, the study recommends identifying which activities to increase in order to create a happy work-life balance between difficult and rewarding tasks. The author suggests that you choose two activities in different areas, set realistic and achievable goals regarding them, and start those two activities right away.

Another option is to discuss with your doctor the possibility of Anti-Depressant medication, otherwise known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs increase the brain’s serotonin levels, which can be beneficial to some individuals whose depression is caused by low serotonin.

However, many cases of depression are not caused by low serotonin levels, and in such cases the side effects of SSRI medication can outweigh any potential benefits. Side effects of SSRIs include nausea, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, decreased sex drive, fatigue and headaches, all of which can impact workplace performance and home life quality if not necessary.

Dr. Alberto Colombi, MD, believes that in order for real progress to be made in treating depression within the workplace, society needs to view mental and physical health as a single, integrated whole. But until the overall mentality towards depression changes within the workplace, keep practicing these small tricks on your own so that your job, and your life, keep improving.

The Depression Treatment Center provides financial, educational, treatment and diagnosis information for different types of depression. For more information or to seek further help regarding depression, visit their website at:  http://www.depressiontreatmentcenter.com/information-resources.php

Discuss This Article

Comments: 3

  • Scott Tarlo says:

    Thank you for continuing to raise awareness about depression in the workplace. I would urge you to build on this article by addressing the stigma regarding depression and how people who have depression and anxiety disorders are deeply affected by workplace conditions. It is not enough to just try to change your thoughts and seek treatment (both from a psychiatrist and a therapist). It is of utmost importance that organizations actively engage in this topic as part of their diversity and inclusion discussions, as well as provide managers with the tools necessary to accomodate employees who may be struggling.

    It’s time to move this conversation forward!

  • Amy Viets says:

    I suspect the author has very little experience with depression. Firstly, a person who is actually suffering from clinical depression is extremely unlikely to be able to engage in any of these suggestions about avoiding activities that cause depression…that’s really not how it works. First the fact of the depression must be addressed and treated, and research shows that the best treatment is a combination of medication and therapy. Therefore the suggestion that it’s better to try and overcome depression without medication (because of the side effects of SSRIs) is very poor advice. There are many antidepressants available that are NOT SSRIs. On the whole, this is a poorly researched and potentially damaging article.

  • MusicalMilliner says:

    Ms. Bringle: Although I don’t doubt your intentions are good, the lack of standard citation of your sources at best creates a red flag. Who authored the e-book? On which date and in which journal, paper or article did the NIMH facts appear? Who authored that report? Who the hell is Dr. Colombi, and what are his credentials? Is he an MD or a Ph.D? There are at least 3 classes of anti-depressants besides SSRIs, which is common information. More than that, you perpetuate the myth that depression is a behavioral issue, and not the neuro-biological condition it is. Treating depression often requires a combination of modalities to manage. Thank you.

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