Depression At Work
Depression is among the top three workplace problems, with 39% of workers in America experiencing it prior to the pandemic. But now that remote working has become the norm, this number has increased significantly to 46%. Employees have started to struggle with working away from their co-workers, worsening feelings of isolation and loneliness. This sudden rise has overwhelmed the mental health care system too.
If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from work depression, the first step to help is to be informed about it. With that, here are some things you should know.
It’s more likely to happen due to remote work
According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time employees work for 8.5 hours a day on weekdays, and 5.5 hours on a weekend or holiday. With remote work blurring the lines between work and personal life, employees are possibly working for more hours, which will likely lead to stress, and eventually depression — faster than in an office setting.
It doesn’t always manifest in obvious ways
It might be difficult to pin down certain feelings and actions and attribute them to work depression. Some symptoms may be noticeable, such as absenteeism and procrastination. But other symptoms include feeling complacent about the job, making excessive errors in tasks, and even physical complaints like headaches and fatigue. These symptoms may be internalized by the person experiencing them, or even dismissed as something like not paying enough attention or not having slept well the night before.
It’s easy to confuse work stress with work depression
You can think of stress as the first step to depression. When you’re stressed, you become more sensitive; you constantly feel overwhelmed, nervous, and easily frustrated. You have a hard time concentrating and remembering things. With work depression, you have some sensitivity as well, but you’ll also experience restlessness and a certain numbness at the same time. You find yourself withdrawing from other people, feeling tired for most of the day, and even losing interest in tasks you used to find interesting. Everyone experiences stress and depression differently, but once symptoms start becoming more serious, the stress may be escalating into depression already.
How to prevent and treat work depression
If you’re already experiencing symptoms of work stress, you can still prevent it from turning into work depression by setting a few guidelines for yourself. Here are some things you can do:
Make sure to take breaks
As mentioned earlier, working from home during the pandemic blurs the line between personal and work life. This makes it easier to get carried away and work for longer periods of time, which can lead to both health and mental problems. To avoid this, take breaks every once in a while and be sure to step away from your desk. Do some stretching, get some fresh air outside, go to the kitchen for a quick snack. When you take your lunch break, make sure you don’t take it at your desk as well. Taking breaks gives your body and mind some time to decompress so you somehow feel refreshed when you go back to work. It’s better than forcing yourself through your work hours, which will only make you less productive in the long run.
If you’re having difficulty managing your stress, or you feel like you’re already depressed, it’s best to seek professional help rather than end up with unhealthy coping mechanisms. Fortunately, the stigma around mental health is slowly decreasing, and companies are now increasing mental health benefits as well. If you’ve got health coverage, you can contact your HR to ask if it includes plans for mental illness. Aside from insurance, you can also visit community mental health centers. Remember that it’s okay to need help.