Work Depression

Work depression

Ongoing stress and pressure can cause work depression. It is a reality of the fast paced work environment of today. More than billion are lost each year as a result of so-called work depression. It is a rather common illness affecting 1 out of every 20 adults at any given time. Work depression affects three out of every ten workers at least once a year.

Most people see the workplace as a secure environment where they obtain some form of stability and structure. When a person struggles with symptoms of work depression, the very same place of structure can become a cage where he/she feels trapped without a means to get out.

Being able to identify symptoms will help you in handling it and getting help as soon as possible. Managers should also be attentive to the symptoms as they will be able to refer an employee to a councilor and address problem areas at work more efficiently.

Symptoms of work depression include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Taking many sick leave days
  • Leaving early and coming late
  • Irritability
  • Decrease in productivity
  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Mistakes
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Constant fatigue
  • Withdrawing from colleagues
  • Lack of interest in the work or environment
  • Mood swings.

Work depression not only affects the individual, but also colleagues, friends and family. If left untreated, it can lead to suicide, dangerous behavior, or serious mistakes that can cost the company thousands of dollars or even cause injuries. In most cases, people just resign or get fired. If treated, all of the above can be prevented. The effects on a person's work include:

  • Missing deadlines
  • Making mistakes
  • Forgetting meetings
  • Forgetting information
  • Arguing with co-workers
  • Coming late for work
  • Unable to handle normal workload
  • Unable to ask for assistance.

Several causes for work depression can be listed, for instance:

  • Unsafe or unsatisfactory work environment
  • Problems, financial strain or illness at home
  • Lack of promotion prospects
  • Income too low for the work load
  • Feelings of being unappreciated
  • Poor relations with management
  • Uninteresting work
  • Too much routine
  • No opportunity to use skills
  • Too much pressure to perform
  • Not enough participation in decisions affecting them
  • Poor health.

If one of your co-workers suffers from the symptoms of depression you can help by doing the following:

  • Ask in a polite manner if the person needs assistance with the work.
  • Offer to listen to what's on the person's mind.
  • Be discrete and don't misuse the trust of the person when opening up to you.
  • Help them see that talking to someone and making small changes can help them to overcome the problem.

If you are a manager or supervisor you can help your worker by doing the following:

  • Creating an opportunity to discuss the situation with the worker.
  • Offering a few days off to attend to personal problems.
  • Suggesting that the worker attends counseling.
  • Changing the work routine.
  • Providing the employee an opportunity to use his or her skills more effectively.
  • Creating a safer work environment.
  • Encourage discussion about decisions affecting employees.
  • Providing new challenges.
  • If the workload is too heavy, delegate tasks to other workers as well.

If you suffer from the symptoms of work depression then you should speak to a person at work who you trust as well as to your supervisor. Inform the superior in charge about the problem and provide an action plan. The manager wants to know what you plan to do about it. Work on the problem, don't ignore it. You can do the following:

  • Speak to someone about the underlying causes and seek advice on overcoming the problems.
  • If you don't find your work stimulating enough, speak to the supervisor for additional challenges and taking some of the routine or repetitive tasks away.
  • Request a transfer to another department if need be.
  • Seek counseling.
  • Change your eating habits to include less junk food and more healthy food.
  • Cut back on sugars.
  • Do some form of exercise daily, such as walking for 20 minutes a day.
  • Consult your family doctor.
  • Make changes to your attitude. Rather than seeing every day as just another workday, look for opportunities where you can help.
  • If your workload is too heavy, ask for assistance.

The longer the situation is left, the worse it will get. Companies in general can manage work depression in the following ways:

  • Educating employees about the symptoms and how to help fellow workers.
  • Creating a stress free, safe and secure work environment.
  • Structuring jobs to include variety.
  • Educating middle management and supervisors about dealing with employees who suffer from work depression.
  • Encourage participation in decision making that affects workers.
  • Setting up a counseling service.

Working together to fight work depression, not only saves costs associated with the illness, but also increases productivity.