How many people in the modern workplace are actually suffering from depression? Many of us struggle with this issue, keeping our problem secret for colleagues without realizing we might actually be too depressed to work.
Yes, many of us get sad from time to time, and we soldier on at work until things get better. But a major depressive disorder is a lot different from feeling a little down. It’s not as easy to snap out of an episode of depression and continue working.
In fact, depression can be just as debilitating and impactful as a physical injury.
Depression and Work
There are a large number of people who have severe and even clinical depression who are heading into work each day. This illness is often seen as a stigma. To call in sick is usually the last thing on people’s minds and, despite improvements in recent years, it is still not taken as seriously as physical health problems.
The stigma surrounding depression and other mental illness can mean someone is less than open about their problem.
When you say you are depressed, the initial reaction generally seems to be that you are feeling low, your self-esteem is bruised, or your outlook on life is negative. Severe depression has much more wide-ranging and immediate consequences, however.
It may quickly drain your energy levels, make you unable to focus correctly, disrupt your sleep at night, and cause problems with appetite. There are effects on your physical health, too, with changes to brain patterns and hormone levels.
Are You Too Depressed to Work?
First of all, it’s vital to get a proper diagnosis of your depression and begin getting some therapy or treatment. That might be something as simple as being placed on anti-depressants for a while or discussing your issues with a qualified mental health practitioner such as a therapist.
It’s essential to know what kind of challenge you are facing and start receiving the support you need. If you work for a large organization, the HR department should have procedures in place to help employees who are suffering from depression. Yes, this can be a big call and something you may not want to do immediately, but it should be an option if things don’t improve.
Support from your employer might include monitoring and adjusting your workload to help you cope, not being asked to do things outside your area of competence, or helping you manage difficult work colleagues.
You might want to talk things through with a trusted colleague at work first or a member of your family. It’s essential to give yourself a safety net and prevent things from getting worse. If your job is actually contributing to your depression, it’s a good idea to discuss things with your line manager.
One thing you shouldn’t be doing is ignoring your depression with the hope that things will get better over time. It’s important to put together a plan of action and get a support network in place – whether that’s friends and family, your GP, or support groups that have similar experiences.
Depression can be a lonely illness and is made worse when you have no one to confide in. We might start to push people away from our lives because of that. Websites like Mind in the UK have a lot of information about how to tell employers that you have an issue, and many countries now have equality and work legislation in place that is designed to protect and support employees.
If you are struggling and too depressed to work, it’s time to put in place the resources and support that you need to aid your recovery. You’ll be surprised by the number of people, both in the workplace and at home, who are will to help and how supportive they can be.