The intense pressure of a managerial position coupled with the repetitive nature of office work and the challenging personalities found in virtually every workplace can be a recipe for depression.
The occasional “bad day” where you feel frustrated or unmotivated is normal work fatigue; however, being unable to concentrate for days or weeks on end to the point that it is negatively affecting your personal and professional life could be a sign of depression at work.
If these symptoms sound familiar, you are not alone.
A report prepared by the Centre for Organizational Health and Development at the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine used data from the World Health Organization and other organizations to find that nearly half of the world’s population experienced some form of mental illness, such as depression, during their life that impacted their ability to function in daily life.
Staying engaged in as many of your regular daily activities as possible, including work, is an essential part of working through depression.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done for many individuals suffering from depression. Those suffering from depression at work are often forced to accept reduced hours, responsibilities, and pay because of their symptoms.
The following are techniques that you can use to cope with depression at work.
1. Recognize and Acknowledge
Feeling tired all of the time, increased isolation from coworkers, decreased productivity, crying spells, burying your emotions in unhealthy behaviors, and calling in sick can be signs of depression. If you have tried “powering through” and nothing seems to work, it is time to seek professional help.
A psychiatrist, therapist, or other mental health professional can provide you with various coping mechanisms for dealing with your depression symptoms.
It is also important to realize that you are not alone. In fact, as many as 1 in 20 workers are dealing with depression at work at any given time.
2. Talk to Someone
Most of us are comfortable venting about our day-to-day work-related frustrations with friends, family, or even co-workers. However, we are often reluctant to discuss depression with others out of fear that it may be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
In reality, sharing your struggles with someone that you trust can make it easier to cope with your depression at work.
In certain situations, it may even be advisable to arrange a meeting with your immediate boss once you have an actual diagnosis and are actively seeking treatment. This will let your boss know that any changes that he or she may notice in your job performance are not the result of dissatisfaction. In fact, you are taking steps to improve the situation.
3. Identify Depression Triggers
Most people experiencing depression at work will find that certain situations may trigger or exacerbate their symptoms. For instance, too many deadlines or a contentious meeting.
Take a moment to identify at least five scenarios that worsen your depression symptoms.
Once you have done this, create an action plan listing specific steps that you can take to either avoid the trigger or lessen its impact.
4. Take Time Off
Most executives and managers are highly ambitious and tend toward Type-A personalities. As a result, they are reluctant to take vacations or mental health breaks. Taking time away to unplug from the pressures of work is essential for your mind as well as your body.
Do not be afraid to take a few days of vacation if you feel your depression worsening. You should also make it a point to never leave vacation time unused. Allowing yourself time to recharge. You will return to work with renewed productivity and creativity that will make you a better leader for your organization.
5. Focus on Smaller Tasks
Depression can make it difficult to concentrate, which can make large projects seem overwhelming. Give yourself permission to say “no” to projects and additional commitments when possible if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
If you find yourself struggling to get started on a particular task, try breaking it down into small, manageable pieces or even delegating if that is appropriate for the task.
6. Learn Calming Techniques
Even with diligent treatment, you might find yourself experiencing an acute episode of depression while at work. In these instances, it is helpful to have a few self-calming techniques at your disposal to help you relax and reset so that you can get back to your work as quickly as possible.
For example, you can take a quick walk around the block or shut your office door so that you can meditate for five minutes.
Improve your meditation practice with Muse, by Gaiam, which encourages changes in the brain and help you reduce stress and anxiety.
7. Personalize Your Workspace
Your physical workspace can have a significant impact on your overall mood. Start by making sure that there is plenty of light, which will automatically help you feel happier and more alert and focused. You can then add some colorful yet professional furnishings and accessories to make your office a more pleasant environment.
If you have dealt with depression at work, we urge you to share your story and coping strategies in the comments below.