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Understanding Depression and its Impact on Work

Tags:  Job stress, Depression

Just like stress, depression can have a major impact on work productivity. In fact, according to a Yale School of Medicine report, depression has a greater impact on presenteeism – the common practice of ill employees going to work-- than on absenteeism.


That is because unlike a cold, where the employee may experience physical symptoms such as fever, sniffling and a sore throat, something coworkers might notice, depression exhibits itself in a feeling of hopelessness and a loss of interest in normal activities, symptoms that may go unnoticed.


The problem is depression can also impact your ability to concentrate and your energy level as well as your ability to sleep. For many employees with depression it's just about going through the motions.


What you need to understand is that in most cases there is treatment. It's a matter of recognizing the symptoms and seeking help.


Typical Reasons and Symptoms of Depression


While depression can come on quite suddenly and without warning due to a specific life event, it can also build up slowly over a period of time. While there are several kinds of depression – clinical, bipolar, postpartum – the exact cause differs from person to person and can include issues such as:

  • biological (family history)
  • environmental (trauma and stress)
  • psychological (substance abuse, anxiety)
  • medical (health conditions such as AIDs or HIV)
Some of the more typical symptoms of depression include:
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Self loathing
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Isolation
  • Sleeplessness or insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of energy

Typical Treatments of Depression


There are two standard treatments for depression: medication and psychotherapy.


According to statistics, more than 14 million Americans suffer from depression. It is up to your doctor to diagnose and prescribe treatment for you based on the pattern of your depression, its severity, persistence of symptoms, and history.


Along with prescription medication there are a number of herbs, minerals, supplements, and alternative medicines that have been promoted as remedies for depression. Speak with your doctor about your alternatives.


In addition to medication, your doctor may prescribe psychotherapy in which you have the opportunity to talk to a professional about your feelings. Therapy may involve working with psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers in individual as well as group therapy.


What to Do Next


If you feel that you may be suffering from depression, seek the assistance of a licensed professional either through your employer's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or through your health insurance plan. Only a mental health professional can diagnose clinical depression.


Depression is a very real problem that can impact your personal and work life. It's important not to put off getting treatment.

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