Whether you're a top-level manager, a mid level supervisor or a dedicated employee who is good at their job, some employment positions today can tend to be the precursor to people experiencing, sometimes for the first time in their lives, bouts of depression. Of course not everyone, even if they have difficulties in their employment, will suffer from depression. It often takes a long period of time for depression to manifest itself unless the person is also suffering from a precursor such as a physical or mental illness in which depression is often a known symptom Knowing some of the signs to watch for however, can make a big difference between depression that is quickly treated and depression that causes a debilitating illness.
How can your job contribute to depression?
With over $40 million lost in work days due to depression in the US alone every year and growing, it's obvious that workplace depression is a growing concern. The unfortunate reality however, is that less than 1% of employees suffering from depression due to work related issues actually let anyone on the job know they are suffering. The stigma remains despite our ability to advance with medical, technological and scientific break throughs, that to suffer from depression is something that we usually don't wish to share, especially with co-workers or employers. Depression continues to hurt a large number of people and their families every day and the truth is that depression does not pick favorites. No matter what socio-economic background you might come from, if the right set of circumstances are in evidence, anyone of any age, from any background can suffer from depression.
There are some ways in which our employment can contribute to bouts of depression including such things as office politics that pit employee against management or employee against employee. High stress positions where burnout is common and employment turnover is frequent. Managerial or supervisory positions where the person is expected to carry out their responsibilities to the best of their ability but they are restricted from doing so due to a lack of decision-making power available to them.
Frequent expectations by those in authority can also lead to depression particularly where those expectations are beyond rational or necessary requirements. Some people in a position of authority or as an overseer of others tend to make it their mission to create friction among staff, demand that certain staff members adhere to certain requirements while other members seem to be offered a "drift" card that propels them into opportunities and benefits that are restricted to the "elite".
Too heavy a workload, not enough recognition, too many restrictions, not enough leadership or opportunity to be the leader you were initially hired to be and disliking your job so much that a cloud of dread hangs over you every day, can and does bring about a level of depression that if not addressed, can grow to a level that could result in the inability to function normally or comfortably. Depression is responsible for a large number of disability claims today and those continue to grow at an alarming rate. In a world where many employers continue to place profit before people, it's employees who must take the initiative to ensure their position isn't leading them into a period of ill health.
Workplace difficulties that are experienced day after day for weeks or months or even years, can begin to manifest signs of stress in employees that can show up in many forms including ulcers, migraines and other symptoms that often include depression.
How to stay healthy in the workplace
If your position is one of authority, as a Supervisor, top management or any position where you are responsible for a certain level of decision-making and direction, one very important aspect to watch out for is whether or not you are being allowed to carry out your duties properly. If you were hired to carry out a certain level of responsibility and suddenly you find that responsibility being restricted and modified so that you are unable to effectively perform your duties without first checking with someone else or your level of authority is continually undermind you may, after a period discover that you're suffering from periods of depression. When we lose the ability to make decisions, are witheld from carrying out duties we were hired to perform or we are continually fighting to keep our position from being labeled as menial, depression can set in and begin to affect how we feel, act, think and behave.
Employment where management, supervisory staff, or employees do not treat others with respect can also create a level of depression to settle in over time that makes the work environment one that is more oppressive than productive. Again, avoiding signs that you are feeling unhappy is not the way to deal with the situation.
Some signs that could signal depression
1. You feel tired, drained and disinterested in those things you use to enjoy doing.
2. You find yourself becoming short-tempered.
3. You tell people you aren't bothered by events in the workplace that affect you but in reality you try to stifle your feelings expecting things to change. When they don't, you become frustrated and feel hopeless or trapped.
4. You find yourself sleeping much more than usual.
5. Your appetite has changed (either loss of appetite or over indulgence).
6. Things such as headaches, stomach aches more often than usual.
7. Drinking or smoking in excess.
8. Loss of interest in intimacy, social activities or socializing in general.
9. Losing yourself in books or another activity just to allow yourself to "forget" for a while.
10. Physical breakdown (crying for no clear reason, inability to think clearly or function well).
Naturally, there can be many reasons for these symptoms and the best way to determine whether depression is the issue is to be seen by a medical professional. Self-diagnosing is not something anyone should do as many illnesses can display similar symptoms.
Depression is treatable
Depression is a difficult illness to overcome by ones self and despite the fact that many of us believe that we can do so, most of us discover we can't. Depression becomes a monkey on our back, even when the sky is clear and the sun is shining, we literally feel that the day is bleak, a dark cloud seems to envelope us.
If you believe that you or someone you know is suffering from depression the best possible course of action is to seek out the assistance of a reputable Medical professional who is familiar with depression, its stages, signs and symptoms and steps necessary to aid in the recovery.
Under medical supervision, such things as medication, psychotherapy, group therapy and hypnotherapy can often bring about incredible and positive changes in someone who is struggling to regain their life.
As someone who lives with Bi-Polar and Fibromyalgia, I have experienced depression several times and there is absolutely no shame in understanding that sometimes we just need a little help to get through a difficult or trying time in life that threatens to change who we are for good. Depression doesn't have the right to force us to suffer in silence and our pride also doesn't have the right to keep us from seeking out help. Depression is one illness that mustn't be left unchecked. It can damage and destroy lives needlessly and senselessly if we refuse to acknowledge the fact that Depression is not a sign of weakness but instead is a sign that our bodies are attempting to warn us that it's time we received medical assistance. The sooner medical intervention is sought the sooner life returns to normal again.
Medication for depression is often feared as something that masks rather than manages depression. In some cases yes, this can be the result, particularly if treatment is not properly addressed or over medication takes place. When medication is prescribed correctly however, it brings back the life you enjoyed and along with that there is a little side benefit. You suddenly realize that life is precious, laughter is contagious and no one has the right to take either of those things away from you.
If you are currently in an employment situation that is leaving you empty, unappreciated, without the opportunity to carry out your duties properly you owe it to yourself and to those who care about you to make sure that your health does not suffer. Speak to some one in authority whom you can trust and whom you respect and know that they respect you. Explain the issues that are affecting you and which you believe could have a severe impact on your productivity and eventually your health.
Your health is your ticket to living well, there is no reason why you should have to suffer needlessly or alone, especially when there are solutions to depression that work!