Learn why the onset of depression at work may not be obvious and why you should address this sooner rather than later with less concern about the stigma associated with it.
- When depression first strikes, it may not be obvious. You may think you're experiencing a temporary setback but what if over time, the emotional load adds up? Before you know it, you could feel stuck in a deep, dark depression. This reminds me of Sally, a corporate executive who felt disinterested, fatigued, distracted, and irritable. She wasn't sleeping well and she was gaining a little weight, too. For many of us, this may seem to be all part of a day's work but for Sally, this signified the early onset of a major depression symptom.
She had completely missed this. Why do people like Sally take so long to recognize their depression and how can they know if they are just going through a rough patch versus a major depression? Being depressed comes with an unnecessary stigma from yourself and others. That's why you may try to ignore your depression. The stigma starts when you judge your everyday mistakes as incompetence or character flaws. Day by day, your self esteem will drop.
Then, when you believe that you're unworthy, your colleagues may start to question your worthiness and competence, too. You see, emotions are contagious, neurologically. Neurons in your brain called mirror neurons reflect the emotions of those around you. It's a lose lose situation when you get caught up in this vicious cycle of stigma. It only increases your loneliness, isolation, and self-deprecation, and even though confronting this might be the last thing you want to do, you need to know that you are not alone.
Depression and mental illnesses are more common than you think. More than one in two adults aged eighteen to 29 have met criteria for any mental disorder in their lifetime. And depression is not a result of weak character, either. It's a biological challenge associated with the stresses of life that eventually add up. Also, depression ranks as a leading cause of disability worldwide. It affects more than 350 million people.
In fact, research also suggests that CEOs may have double the rate of depression compared to the general public. Some companies have programs that assist people with personal challenges impacting their work. In these employee assistance programs, depression is one of the top three challenges and among all medical conditions, depression may have the greatest negative impact on time management and productivity, too. If you're depressed, you're certainly not alone in this struggle.
Abraham Lincoln and Sir Winston Churchill suffered with depression. More recently, Lady Gaga, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Tipper Gore, and even the comedian Trevor Noah have all experienced depression, too. The loneliness that comes with depression may force you into denial rather than facing the reality of your life's challenges but if you suspect you have depression, self-exploration is far superior to ignoring your mental anguish.
Go for a long walk over the weekend with a friend, if possible. Talk and think things over. The time to explore and address any doubts you have is now.
- Talking about your depression with colleagues
- Battling fatigue
- What to do when you feel overwhelmed
- Building a support system
- Practicing mindfulness
- Using distraction strategically
- Managing poor decision-making and biased thinking