When Depression Comes To Work

4/3/2017  By Thirty Percenters

 April 3, 2017


We've just come through a long, gray winter in Kittitas County. The sun is out and spirits are lifting. But not for everyone. While seasonal weather and length of days do play a part in energy level and mood, depression doesn't leave as easily as turning the page on our calendars.

Ask anyone who's experienced depression, and they'll tell you how important it is to stay engaged with as much of your "life as usual" as possible. Maybe not at the same volume or pace, but the sense of accomplishment and familiarity of routine tasks helps combat depression's strong pull toward social and emotional withdrawal.

In the same breath, veterans of depression will also tell you it's impossible to do everything you always have, when in the throes of depression.

It's okay to take care of yourself. In fact, it's actually a very important factor in your professional success. -Betsy Aimee

The ideal recipe for treating depression includes:

1. Medication & counseling
2. Social support
3. Education
4. Planning

The first 3 items are no-brainers - partner with your health provider, seek support from others, and learn all you can about your condition. The benefits from these 3 steps will have a positive impact on your situation at work; but step 4, Planning, is key in helping you not only survive at work, but possibly even thrive.

Don't wait. Make a plan.

Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Take one worry off your list by thinking ahead about what to expect in terms of work assignments, relationships, and scenarios – and decide how to compensate for a likely decreased ability to do what you’ve done before, effortlessly: multitasking, focusing on intensive projects, presenting at meetings, etc.

The University of Michigan Depression Center recognizes the impact of depression in the workplace, and offers a list of on-the-job strategies for coping at work:

• Don’t let work take precedence over recovery
• Remember what’s important about work
• Don’t set yourself up by expecting perfection
• Don’t let the past define today or tomorrow
• Develop symptom-specific strategies

It’s important to set goals – clear ones – that are realistic about what you’re able to accomplish. It also means setting those goals daily. During her own depressive episodes, women’s health advocate Betsy Aimee created daily lists and highlighted the most important items, which were the priorities of “my most important audience – my boss.” She also asked a colleague to review her work when things were particularly rough. She took “copious notes” during meetings to compensate for poor memory retention.

Aimee also recommends a dose of self-compassion, “Don’t be too hard on yourself when you have a difficult day. The road to recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.”


Related resources:
Self-care portfolio, University of Michigan Depression Center
How to Cope with Depression at Work, Lisa Esposito, US News

Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, Thirty Percenters does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare professional.