Depression is more common than ever, partly because of the constant negative media we’re surrounded by and partly because of an increase in diagnoses across the country. According to research from Mental Health America, depression is the third most common workplace problem for employees.
In some cases, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) can get in the way of a healthy, normal lifestyle. Unfortunately, many depressed employees will not seek treatment because they’re concerned it will affect their ability to work. They don’t want to lose their job or be branded as “weak” by those who don’t understand.
For some, depression can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, let alone go to work and be a productive employee. If you find that your depression is preventing you from working well, there are options.
Discuss The Issue With Your Boss
Things like not showing up to work, lagging in productivity, and acting unprofessionally are often symptoms of those with depression. Unfortunately, these are also grounds for getting fired.
It’s very likely that your boss is simply unaware of your depression. Sitting down in a confidential session with your boss and discussing your options can be exactly what you need to get through this difficult time.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 64 percent of employers are willing to work with employees who have depression and refer them to an EAP health professional.
Get Treatment For Your Depression
Employers are not allowed to fire you for a mental health issue, thanks to the American Disability Act, but if you’re unwilling to work with your employer and follow through with treatment, you could still be terminated. It can be difficult to admit that you need professional help, but it might come down to a final decision: get professional help or lose your job.
More than 80 percent of depressed cases can be treated quickly and effectively, but two-thirds of people don’t receive the treatment they need. Treatment can involve medication, psychotherapy, or both. If you’re ever uncomfortable or have adverse reactions to a particular treatment, talk to your doctor about doing something different.
Your employer might also have a variety of depression-friendly programs, like support groups, corporate therapists, and other mental health services. Take advantage of these opportunities designed to help you get well.
Consider Filing For Disability
Some with MDD are unable to get a handle on their depression, either because they sought treatment too late, or the treatments they’ve tried are ineffective. If that’s the case, you may be able to file for disability.
If you have a documented mental health issue, such as MDD, it’s not hard to qualify for disability. If it’s related to workplace stress, you might also qualify for a disability stipend from your employer. Research your options carefully to understand how you qualify and the time limitations that you can accept disability payouts.
Try To Improve Your Mood
Although some depressive episodes are not to be trifled with, others can be handled. You probably have more power over your depression than you think; utilizing certain coping skills can be your savior during a rough workday.
Identify things that improve your mood. Maybe it’s a certain type of music, talking with a favorite coworker, a walk during lunch, or even a trip to the coffee bar. Working through your difficult times with coping elements can help you defeat depression in the workplace.
Learn To Prioritize
Many people suffering from MDD can sense the impending arrival of a depressive episode. At that point, they can do everything possible to think positively and get through the workday. Oftentimes, however, your productivity will be low.
When you feel depressive episodes on the horizon, start organizing your work tasks. Learn to identify the top priorities that must be completed and let the rest wait for another day. If you’ve opened a dialogue with your boss or supervisor, you could ask which tasks must be completed first and who can help you finish the rest.
Remember, you’re not trying to get employee of the month. You’re just trying to get through the workday being the best employee you can be, no matter your mental health condition. There will be give and take, but you can live a normal lifestyle, even with your depression.
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