It’s very common for people to experience mental health issues because or while at work. Depression, anxiety, sadness, and more is something you might be thinking while working. So what do you do when working makes you feel depressed?
In the UK alone over 17.9 million days of work were lost due to mental health conditions in the 2019/2020 period. For those working in the NHS mental health problems were the biggest cause of sick days with over 4.2 million mental health sick days taken.
It’s no surprise that mental health has an impact on not only our normal lives but also during working time. It means that we work less, are less productive, and less likely to seek help.
Chances are work has caused you some form of mental health problem at some point, and for many this is chronic.
So what can we do about this?
Is there such a thing as Work Depression?
The short answer is yes, it can both cause to depression or make your symptoms worse.
Considering the average work week is in excess of 45 hours a week with long 9 hour days and crippling commutes it’s a miracle that there aren’t even more people suffering from depression.
The work place can be a significant source of stress for people particularly when the workplace isn’t a very enjoyable atmosphere, which let’s face it is everywhere.
Workplaces simply don’t care about there employees and often times don’t want to spend the money to make their employees happy.
Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) says a negative working environment can lead to mental health problems, increased substance use, and reduced productivity.
There are lots of things workplaces could do but just don’t bother because they can’t see the immediate benefit.
What workplaces need to understand is that depression and other mental health conditions is one of the biggest factors affecting employee productivity and should be managed.
How Do You Know You Have Workplace Depression
The symptoms of workplace depression are very similar and basically identical to general depression.
I’ll try to tailor these more towards the workplace to highlight the features of workplace depression.
- Increased anxiety when thinking about work and not currently at work.
- Continuous feeling of sadness or low mood.
- Lack of motivation to complete tasks properly at work.
- The overwhelming urge to quit your job.
- Making more errors than usual.
- Taking more sick days or lack of motivation to turn up.
- Issues with sleeping.
- Difficulty socialising with team members.
- Feelings of anxiety or loneliness.
- Putting less effort into your appearance.
- Feeling overwhelmed with your workload and irritability.
- Changes in behaviour, being more angry towards people, and more forgetful.
Workplace depression can affect anyone in any job. You might be a cleaner working 50 hour work weeks or the CEO of a major company.
Absolutely no-one is immune to depression and there are things you can do to make it easier for yourself.
It’s something I have experienced a lot in my past. Most of my jobs have involved cleaning, whether that be doing overnights or covering in day time and I’ve experienced depression in all of these.
So What Causes Workplace Depression?
There are actually many different reasons why you might get depressed because of your work. Many of which compound to make your existing issues worse.
There are some things that I have noticed personally make me more depressed and things that some of you also experience with workplace depression.
- Antisocial hours. This could be working nights or at times where your body clock really doesn’t want you working. I found for me that nights really had an impact on my mental health after a few months.
- Being overworked. Being asked to do lots of work without breaks.
- The feeling of no work life balance.
- It’s not a great environment to work in.
- Manager or co-workers breathing down your neck.
- Being stuck in a dead end job with little to no career advancement opportunity.
These are just a few of the reasons you might experience workplace depression. They definitely do have an impact on your mental health.
How To Manage Workplace Depression
The ways to manage workplace depression is pretty similar to depression and boosting your mental health in general.
So let’s see what you can do.
- Get active on your break. So presuming you’re allowed breaks, they can be a great time to quickly get out and go for a walk, and if feasible experience some time in the outdoors. Not only will this reduce stress but also be good for you in the long run.
- Stand as much as possible when working. If you work in an office you might be used to the idea of sitting for hours at a time which is not great. Standing for as little as 15 minutes for every hour should be enough to improve your health.
- Take regular breaks. Work is stressful and if we’re working for hours at a time can become basically impossible to focus, at which time you need a break.
- Bring in some positive flash card with words of encouragement on them as a temporary mood booster.
- Create a work specific journal to write down your emotions while working.
- Watch a few funny videos (Or anything to distract from work).
- Talk with a few friends to help ease through the day.
- Encourage your employer to think about employee wellness. You never know some managers might be receptive to the idea.
- Bring in some comforting objects to help you through work. For some this could be a teddy bear, or even just a picture of your family. Something to remind you of home and the happier times in your life. Something that can help you ground your emotions onto.