Can You Get Time Off for Depression?
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When depression sets in, it can affect the quality of your work. Read on to find out if you can get time off for depression.
What Happens When Depression Affects Your Job?
With bills to pay and mouths to feed, your job is as essential to fulfilling basic needs as breathing. But what happens when you are struck with a bout of serious depression? What if you can’t concentrate, you are missing deadlines, and can’t get proper sleep? Can you get time off for depression?
Employers today are much more sensitive to the mental health needs of their workers. In fact, many companies offer mental health days, just to offer a needed respite from work to regroup. As far as getting an extended leave of absence to obtain treatment for depression, you can absolutely do that.
Employees are protected by law should they need to take some time off to address a mental health issue. Also, health insurance plans offer the same amount of coverage for mental health needs as medical needs.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can be very complex and mysterious. Each person’s depressive disorder can be quite unique, with different symptoms or combinations of symptoms. The DSM-5 states that out of the list of nine symptoms, only five of them need to be present. This can be any combination of the nine symptoms, which means depression can really vary between people.
If you have five symptoms most of the time for more than two weeks, you likely have depression. Here are the symptoms of depression:
- Feeling sad or hopeless; low mood.
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy.
- Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping.
- Slowed thinking and movements.
- Trouble making decisions.
- Change in eating habits; weight gain or loss.
- Irrational feelings of guilt or shame.
- Suicidal thoughts.
What to Do If You Need Time Off for Depression Treatment
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) has expanded the meaning of “disability” to include mental health disorders like depression. The ADA offers certain protections to those whose jobs might be at risk due to a mental disability.
By law, employers cannot ask an employee if they have a mental health disorder or any type of disability. But if you notice you are struggling to perform routine job duties it is your responsibility to inform them.
But what happens when you provide your employer with information about your mental health condition? They are bound by the ADA and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to not discriminate against you. An employee may inform the employer about the depression, and ask for an extended leave or accommodation. The employer is entitled to ask for medical documentation so an ADA disability can be substantiated.
For those with depression, a reasonable accommodation might be asking for a flexible work schedule or to work remotely. Other examples include asking for a quieter workspace, time off for therapy sessions, or extended leave.
What is Residential Mental Health Treatment?
Maybe you have been under the care of a psychiatrist or therapist for your depression. If so, and you don’t seem to be getting better, a higher level of care is the answer.
A residential mental health treatment program offers a step up in care from outpatient treatment for depression. What is so nice about these small, intimate treatment settings is that you will receive more personalized support. Also, by taking some time away from the job and home setting, you can truly focus on getting better.
Depression treatment includes these interventions:
- Psychotherapy. Daily therapy sessions allow you to explore the issues that may be a source of pain and could be contributing to depression. Evidence-based psychotherapies offer a variety of methods to help process any emotional issues.
- Medication. Antidepressants may help relieve the main symptoms of the mood disorder. This relief allows the person to better manage the depression on a daily basis, leading to a better quality of life.
- Peer group sessions. It is helpful to join others with similar mental health struggles to share and discuss personal stories. A clinician guides the group in chatting about various topics.
- Family-focused therapy. Family members may join their loved ones to gain new insights into their depressive disorder. Family members can learn how to best support their loved ones when they return home.
- Psychosocial process group. These sessions help the person learn new social skills, coping skills, stress regulation, and problem-solving skills.
Holistic Methods That Help Depression
Once your residential treatment is completed, you can take action to help maintain the progress you have made. These include:
- Manage stress. Learning ways to manage stress will help your depression. Even the quality of your work improves if you have a handle on stress levels. Try practicing mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, taking a yoga class, or using aromatherapy.
- Improve sleep. Learn ways to improve your sleep quality, as that will have a positive impact on job performance. Keep a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine after 3 p.m., avoid heavy meals past 7 p.m., and shut off devices one hour before bedtime.
- Get regular exercise. A great way to maintain the progress you make in treatment is to embark on a new fitness routine. Choose a couple of activities that you enjoy and make a plan to get some exercise every day. This can elevate your mood while also improving your sleep quality.
Your depression may be so bad you are not able to perform your work duties. If so, ask your employer is you can get time off for depression.
The Treatment Specialist Trusted Resource for Mental Health Questions
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, call us for guidance at (866) 644-7911.
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