Today, more adults suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders than ever before. Although you are struggling, you likely still have to manage the expectations of your job. Mental health issues do not respect your work hours, making it hard to get through the workday or week when you aren’t feeling your best.
Depending on your job’s demands and the availability of support offered, your workplace may be contributing to your stress levels and mood problems. Find out what depression in the workplace looks like and the five steps to start feeling better.
Depression Manifesting in Your Work Life
While you may know what your depression symptoms look like at home, you may be missing some key indications you are depressed at work. They include:
- Your performance is slowly declining – You used to enjoy what you were doing and were easily motivated. Now, you are moving more slowly and struggling to complete daily tasks or meet deadlines.
- You struggle to connect with your colleagues – You used to chat lightheartedly, but now you don’t laugh or find entertainment in the topics your colleagues are discussing.
- You feel low on energy – You may start to feel sad at work or want to go home to bed. Or, you might feel like everything easy is now challenging.
- You can’t let go of mistakes – You may start to fear failure or further mistakes, which affects your self-confidence. You will begin to procrastinate or be unable to make decisions.
1. Find Your Support
While it might be challenging to continue to connect with your work colleagues, find a trusted friend that can help you through this difficult time. It is better if they are at work with you, but a friend you can meet at the end of your day or for lunch will help too. You may be surprised to find some of your work friends are going through something similar. Don’t suppress and hide your feelings. Solidarity and a group chat go a long way to understanding that you’re not alone in your struggles.
2. Speak Up
You might not want to talk about what you are going through with management. If you need to take more than your sick or mental health days allow, sharing what you’re going through with your boss or HR can have a positive impact. If you don’t have that kind of relationship with your supervisor, consult with HR to determine the best approach. You are entitled to ask for help with your workload or take leave due to your medical condition. You may be hesitant to share specifics about your health with anyone at your workplace. Still, it can help you maintain your professional reputation and avoid breaking down and falling behind.
3. Take Care of Yourself
A critical factor in your professional success is taking care of yourself. You may be ignoring your symptoms or be so busy that taking time for yourself seems impossible. If you spend some valuable time doing things that make you feel better and improve your mood, you will be a better and happier employee. If your work cannot see or honor that, it may be the best time to seek a new opportunity. If your workplace environment or colleagues contribute to your depression, that is another reason to start the job search.
4. Set Goals
Depression can cloud your thinking and make it difficult to focus. Be realistic about what you can accomplish, and set clear daily goals. Create a to-do list every morning and highlight your top three for the day, ensuring you meet the most immediate needs first. Schedule extra time to review essential emails or memos and to prepare assignments.
If you are having a particularly slow week, have a trusted coworker review your work. Put everything in your calendar with reminders if your memory retention is failing. Identify what is falling through the cracks and figure out what will help you the most. Do whatever you need to help you.
5. Get Professional Help
If you have struggled with depression in the past, hopefully, you have recognized the signs and sought out treatment. Support groups are helpful to combat depression in the workplace and help manage your professional life. They provide a positive outlet and help you cope.
Most employer-based insurance plans offer some mental health coverage for talk therapy and medication management. Find out your plan specifics as some alternative depression treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may also be covered by your employer.
Suffering from depression at work can be overwhelming and challenging. You can’t just flip a switch and immediately feel better, but prioritizing your health can help you feel like yourself again. Finding support from your friends, coworkers, and HR will help you through the rough times. Setting definable goals and making to-do lists will keep you on track with deadlines. Seeking treatment will help put your depression in remission when everything else isn’t enough to get you through it.