Depression at Work: Tips for Turning It Around
If you’re depressed at work or because of work, you’re not alone. Forbes observes that Millennials are very likely to suffer from depression and related anxiety and mood disorders at the workplace. After all, you are the group that was hit hard by the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 and is bearing the brunt of new trends in the workplace.
New jobs are increasingly likely to be without benefits that older generations took for granted. There is a rise in jobs asking for engagement, like checking email or talking on the phone, in employees’ off-work hours. Jobs are not as secure and long term as they once were.
All that can lead to depression and anxiety. So can individual job situations, such as demanding bosses or difficult colleagues. As a result of depression, you might find it hard to focus on the tasks at hand. You might be unable to summon the energy to deal with them. You may find yourself unable to relax or sleep without alcohol or drugs.
If you’re depressed at work, there are many productive ways to turn it around. Here are five steps to move you out of depression and into a productive and happy life.
Assess the Causes
You need to figure out what is causing your depression. Usually, symptoms are pretty clear. You may find it nearly impossible to get out of bed in the morning because you are dreading a conference with your boss, who is hypercritical. You may start to feel anxiety on Sunday afternoons because of the workload that faces you Monday.
When you feel these symptoms, analyze what is causing them. Difficult relationships with your supervisor? A huge workload and no one to help? Dislike of the work itself? A stressful commute? A feeling that you’re stagnating and will never have the type of job you want? A salary below what you’re worth?
Plan a Change
One of the most helpful things you can do to turn work-related depression around is to plan to change the source of your depression. You can begin looking for a job with a more reasonable supervisor, a more doable workload, a better commute or a higher salary. You can take steps to work toward the type of job you want.
Often, the fact that you’re working toward a better situation can itself lift the symptoms of depression.
Try to Change Stressors in Your Current Job
After you’ve assessed the cause of your depression, try to change any elements that are under your control. If there is no one to help you with a crushing workload, discuss it with your supervisor. See if some of it might be reassigned or temporary employees can be brought in. Ask if you can telecommute on some days to ease the commute. See if you can transfer to a different department. Make a plan to ask for a raise.
It is important to work toward making your life better. At the same time, though, sometimes it is possible to change conditions at work, and sometimes there are forces beyond your control. Do not beat yourself up if these forces make it difficult to change your current job. Continue with concrete plans to change the source of the depression until the change occurs. It will if you keep working at it.
One of the chief symptoms of depression is a turning away from good health habits. It might be next to impossible to motivate yourself to go to the gym. You might find it difficult to plan and shop for healthy meals, binging on potato chips and chocolate instead. If you gain weight or become more stressed as a result, it can reinforce the depressive cycle. If you’re becoming stressed at work and falling into some addictive behaviors as an outlet for the stress — frequent happy hours, several glasses of wine each night to unwind, and so forth — you may find yourself more depressed and stressed than you were to begin with.
So, make it part of your life to do activities to care for your health and well-being. Get yourself to the gym. Take a yoga class. Bicycle with friends rather than meeting up at happy hour. Plan meals with plenty of healthful food. Get a good 8 hours of sleep per night. It is important to work toward these, because depression will make you want to let them slide.
Reach Out to Family and Friends
Depression may be exacerbated by suffering in silence. Although depression may make it hard to talk about your feelings, it is important to let your family and friends know what you are experiencing. Tell them about the difficult conditions at work. Perhaps they will have suggestions to make it better! It can also be a great relief to hear stories of commiseration.
Also, tell them that you are feeling depressed. They may interpret your withdrawal from certain activities as anger. If you have a lack of energy due to depression, let them know that it is the cause, not them or the activity.
Depression at work is increasingly prevalent among the millennial generation. However, pinpointing the causes and making a plan to change them can alleviate depression. Share the circumstances and effects with your friends and family. Finally, be sure to keep a good exercise, eating and sleep regimen as part of your life, as depression can upend them. Depression can be turned around; the five steps above will help you do it.