According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of adults live with a mental disorder, and 12 billion working days are lost annually due to anxiety and depression. Mood disorders have risen at unprecedented rates since 2020, especially depression and anxiety. They affect not only your personal life but your professional work life.
Even if you are not suffering from a mental wellness issue, chances are one of your close colleagues is. As they are increasingly more common in the workplace, depression and anxiety can have a profound impact on productivity, individual and group well-being, and overall company success.
Increased Work Absences
As already highlighted, depression and anxiety lead to billions of missed work days annually. Workers may need to take more time off or sick days to cope with their mental health problems. Respondents of one study reported being unprepared for how new medications would make them feel initially, which could also contribute to more missed days of work.
Missing work repeatedly can actually increase stress and anxiety, increasing the risk for more mental health issues. The absences disrupt workflow and place additional burdens on coworkers, increasing their stress and anxiety levels. While anxiety and depression aren’t contagious, they can be catching in situations like this. Read more about the social contagion phenomenon with depression here.
While missing work will definitely impact productivity, common symptoms of depression and anxiety are decreased concentration, brain fogginess, and an inability to make decisions. The WHO reported reduced productivity from anxiety and depression cost the global economy one trillion dollars annually.
One study investigating the effects of depression and anxiety in the workplace found workers reported their medications impaired their work performance as well. Depression and anxiety and the treatment of these mood disorders can reduce productivity, leading to missed deadlines, decreased work quality, poor performance reviews, and reduced job satisfaction over time.
Untreated or uncontrolled anxiety and depression can lead to mood swings, irritability, and withdrawal which can impact a harmonious work environment.
In a survey on workplace anxiety, people listed struggling with these common situations:
- Making and managing deadlines
- Building and maintaining personal relationships
- Overseeing coworkers
- Participating publicly, such as in meetings or presentations
- Handling problems as they arise
Because of reduced productivity, increased workloads on colleagues, and the above list of struggles, interpersonal conflict is almost a guarantee.
Stigma or Fear of Disclosure
Fear of disclosure, often due to stigma, prevents employees from accessing necessary support and accommodations to support them in their jobs. When you don’t have access to these services, you can be more at risk of losing your job.
It is important to note that it’s your decision to share your diagnosis with your employer or coworkers. As long as you can perform your job requirements and essential functions with reasonable accommodation, your employer cannot refuse to hire you or fire you due to your disability. You may keep your diagnosis private or disclose it for workplace accommodation. Or you may simply want to educate others about your condition and destigmatize your disorder. No matter what you decide, the decision is entirely up to you.
Many unsupportive workplaces have higher turnover rates, resulting in higher recruitment and training expenses. Additionally, the costs associated with missed work and hiring temporary staff to support an employee’s mental health break add up. Then, there are healthcare expenses, legal issues regarding accommodations and discrimination, and loss of profits due to reduced productivity. Depression and anxiety can be costly not only to the individual but to the overall company and the wider economy.
Tips To Manage Your Disorder While Working
If you have depression or anxiety and it’s affecting your work performance or workplace, here are some tips to help you mitigate the adverse effects:
1. Continue Working
While it may seem counterintuitive, work can protect mental health. In addition to financial independence, a job can provide a sense of purpose, achievement, and confidence.
2. Tell A Trusted Coworker
Having someone close by who knows and accepts your condition can help reduce workplace anxiety. You know you can go to them, and they will have your back if you need it.
3. Be Okay With Failure
Perfectionism and the fear of failure can contribute to your anxiety and depression, especially in the workplace. Get comfortable with controlled failures to see yourself overcome your mind blocks and succeed.
4. Plan And Prepare
Be realistic with your time. Don’t over-commit yourself. Ensure you can do your tasks correctly the first time by using the time to plan out what you need to do ahead with estimated mini-deadlines to keep you on track. This will help you prioritize your work.
5. Practice Communicating
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, practice asking for help. You can talk to a coworker or speak with your supervisor if you have too much to handle.
6. Take Care Of Yourself
Try to get enough rest, exercise, and eat a balanced diet. Take breaks when you get overwhelmed to help clear your head. A few moments walking around the block can support your mental and physical wellness.
7. Get Professional Help
Whether it’s due to stigma or the fear that medication could impact your work performance more than your mental well-being already is, you may be hesitant to seek treatment. However, getting treatment will help in the long run.
The good news is there are alternative depression and anxiety treatments that don’t require medication, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy. This is a therapy option that takes a few weeks with short treatments that can be administered on your lunch break.
Whether you decide to disclose your diagnosis or keep it private, your anxiety and depression are affecting your workplace, creating several challenges to overcome. You can practice the above tips to help reduce the effects.
Your employer can also take some proactive steps to help, such as fostering a supportive environment, offering Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), providing training and awareness about mental well-being, encouraging self-care, and offering flexible work arrangements and other reasonable accommodations.