Coping With Workplace Depression

Written by CMHA Grande Prairie
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Everyone feels “blue” or sad from time to time. It’s a normal life experience. But when these emotions increase in intensity, persist for more than a few weeks, and start to interfere with a person’s life, it may signal depression. No amount of “cheering up” can make the depression go away; no amount of exercise, vitamins or vacation can make it disappear.

That’s because depression is an illness, not a weakness.

Depression is Widespread

  • Depression can affect men and women of any age, education, economic or social status.
  • Nearly three million Canadians will experience depression at some point. Help can make a difference.
  • Four out of five people with depression can be successfully treated.

The Impact of Undiagnosed Depression

Depression touches everyone, from friends and family to co-workers. If left undetected, depression leads to decreased productivity and increased sick days. It is important that people in the workplace gain a better understanding and recognition of the nature, scope and signs of this debilitating illness.

The Consequenses of Undiagnosed Depression

Fear of being reprimanded, dismissed or stigmatized for feeling “down”, and feelings of shame will prevent someone from seeking help. Some people try to cope through alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Unfortunately, too many people still believe that depression can be handled alone with a “stiff upper lip”. Unexplained “sick days” can make family and co-workers resentful, and may, in some workplaces, even result in dismissal. Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who areaffected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities. The truth is, if depression is not treated, it can last for months or even years and can lead to suicide.

How To Seek Help For Yourself Or Someone You Know

Help is the key: 80% of people with depression can recover if they get help. Do not try to diagnose the problem yourself. That is for a trained health professional to do.

Recognizing the Signs Of Depression

Although no two people will experience this illness in exactlythe same way, there are common signs of depression. In the workplace, a person with depression will exhibit any number of the following signs:

Personal Changes

  • Irritability/hostility
  • Withdrawal from, or extreme dependence, on others
  • Hopelessness/despair
  • Slowness of speech
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Alcohol/drug abuse

Workplace Changes

  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Decreased productivity
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Decline in dependability
  • Unusual increase in errors in work
  • Being prone to accidents
  • Frequent tardiness, increased “sick” days
  • Lack of enthusiasm for work

Someone who has been experiencing several of these signs for more than a few weeks should seek help.

If you think a co-worker may be experiencing depression, you should continue to show them respect. Help make the Person aware of their value in the workplace and to their colleagues. Offer encouragement and pay genuine compliments every day. Finally, use the trust between you to encourage the person to seek help and/or continued treatment.

Encourage your co-worker to speak to their health professional, an on-site occupational health nurse, or youremployee assistance professional. These people can direct a person with depression toward appropriate treatment such as counseling, self-help groups, family and peer support, or provide referrals to specialists who may recommend medication or psychotherapy.

Used alone or in combination, these treatments are highly successful, but they will only work if the depressed person takes the first step. Seek help immediately – it can make a difference.

From the National CMHA Website.
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