“My Job Is Making Me Depressed!”: Here’s What to Do

January 30, 2024

an image of someone who has been saying "my job is making me depressed"

While work is an unavoidable aspect of life for most people, the escalating stress in modern workplaces can often make people feel ensnared and depressed from work.

Various factors contribute to job dissatisfaction, and the issue of people becoming depressed about work has been intensifying over time. According to NIHCM (National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation), over half of the workforce in the United States reports a decline in mental health since the onset of the pandemic. There’s a silver lining, though – if you’re feeling depressed at work but leaving is not an option, there are strategies available to help you restore balance and well-being in your work environment. Read on to learn more.

Understanding Depression at Work

A depressed worker should start by asking themselves, “Why am I sad at work?

The workplace, while not a direct cause of depression, can exacerbate depressive symptoms in those already living with the mental health condition clinically described as major depressive disorder. It’s helpful first to differentiate between depression and burnout, though, as they are distinct yet overlapping psychological states.

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Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can be triggered by biological factors, life events, or prolonged stress. It manifests as a prolonged state of sadness, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness. Those suffering from major depressive disorder may experience significant changes in appetite, disrupted sleep patterns, diminished energy, and impaired cognitive functions. Symptoms extend to persistent feelings of guilt, difficulty concentrating, a sense of disconnection, and, in severe cases, thoughts of suicide or self-harm. These signs should be recognized as part of a clinical condition that requires professional diagnosis and treatment.

Burnout, while sharing certain symptoms with depression like fatigue and motivational decline, is primarily linked to the workplace or personal life stress. It encompasses feelings of emotional exhaustion, helplessness, and being overwhelmed. Physical manifestations can include headaches, stomach issues, and insomnia. Recent research indicates that a substantial portion of the workforce – almost 89% – have experienced burnout in the past year, while 77% have felt burnout in their current job.

The key distinction lies in the nature of these conditions: depression is characterized by an enduring sense of despair and a lack of hope, whereas burnout is more about feelings of detachment, cynicism, and being overwhelmed by responsibilities. While depression is a clinical disorder requiring medical intervention, burnout often stems from work-related stress and may be alleviated by making changes in the workplace or personal life – seeking support from like-minded colleagues or friends, for instance.

Depression in the workplace may not always be apparent, but it often shares traits with general depression. Here’s a straightforward guide to identifying the signs of depression at work, which can impact both professional and personal life.

Primary indicators of work-related depression

  • Struggling with anxiety: Feeling increasingly anxious, especially in high-stress situations or when thinking about work during off hours.
  • Disinterest in work: A noticeable lack of enthusiasm about your job, even for tasks that once seemed engaging.
  • Diminished energy and motivation: Feeling consistently tired and unmotivated, which might even look like boredom with your tasks.
  • Persistent sadness: Experiencing ongoing feelings of sadness or a consistently low mood.
  • Reduced interest in work tasks: Losing interest in work duties, including those you previously enjoyed.
  • Overwhelming negative emotions: Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, or excessive guilt.
  • Difficulty with concentration: Challenges in focusing on work tasks, retaining new information, or making mistakes more often.
  • Appetite and weight changes: Experiencing significant shifts in appetite or weight.
  • Physical symptoms: Recurring headaches, fatigue, or stomach issues.
  • Altered work attendance: Increased lateness, leaving early, or frequent absences.
  • Impaired decision-making: Struggling to make choices or poor judgment in tasks.
  • Irritability and anger: Noticeable increase in frustration, anger, or irritability.
  • Emotional outbursts: Unexpected crying or tearfulness, often without a clear reason.
  • Sleep disturbances: Experiencing issues with sleeping too much or too little, such as napping during work.
  • Substance use: Turning to alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism.

Signs that others might notice

  • Social withdrawal: Pulling away from colleagues and social interactions.
  • Changes in appearance: Noticeable decline in personal hygiene or a significant change in how you present yourself.
  • Inconsistent work attendance: Frequently arriving late, missing meetings, or taking days off.
  • Decreased productivity: Procrastinating, missing deadlines, lower quality of work, more errors, or indecisiveness.
  • Forgetfulness and indifference: Seeming to forget tasks, showing a lack of interest, or detachment from work.
  • Visible exhaustion: Appearing tired most of the time, possibly taking naps during work.
  • Emotional responses in conversations: Becoming easily overwhelmed, irritated, or emotional, including sudden crying or getting tearful over minor issues.
  • Lack of confidence in tasks: Hesitating or showing insecurity when undertaking work tasks.

Understanding these symptoms can help in recognizing the signs of depression at work, whether in yourself or in co-workers. Approach these signs with empathy and consider seeking professional help for better management and support.

Work Makes Me Depressed, What Should I Do?

If you are finding that work is a significant contributor to your feelings of depression, address this issue carefully and strategically. Maybe you have started thinking, “My job is making me depressed should I quit?” Here are some steps you can take to manage and improve your situation.

1) Acknowledge your feelings

Recognize and accept that your feelings are valid. It is not wrong to claim, “My job is making me depressed”. Indeed, understanding that your job is impacting your mental health is the first step towards finding a solution.

2) Seek professional help

Consulting a mental health professional can provide you with strategies to cope with depression and its symptoms. Therapy can offer a safe space to explore the root causes of your work-related stress and develop personalized coping mechanisms. This is especially important if your internet search history contains entries like “My job is making me suicidal”.

3) Communicate with your employer

If possible, have an honest conversation with your manager or HR department about how you are feeling. Many employers have policies or resources in place to support mental health, and adjustments to your workload or environment might be possible.

4) Establish boundaries

Set clear boundaries between work and personal life. This could mean not checking emails after hours, taking regular breaks during the day, or ensuring that you have time for relaxation and activities you enjoy.

5) Prioritize self-care

Focus on activities that boost your mental and physical well-being, like exercise, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones. Good nutrition, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices like meditation can also support your mental health.

6) Build a support network

Connect with friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional support. Sometimes, just talking about your experiences can be incredibly relieving and helpful.

7) Consider a career change

If your job is consistently detrimental to your mental health and you have explored all other options, it may be worth considering a change in your career or job environment. This can be a significant decision, so weigh the pros and cons and possibly seek career counseling.

8) Develop coping strategies

Learn and practice coping strategies that can help you manage stress and anxiety at work. This might include time management techniques, relaxation exercises, or positive affirmations.

9) Focus on small achievements

Celebrate small successes and accomplishments at work. Acknowledging your achievements can boost your mood and self-esteem.

10) Plan for the future

Develop a plan for your career that aligns more closely with your personal values and mental health needs. This might include setting long-term goals, acquiring new skills, or exploring different roles within your current organization.

Always take your feelings seriously. Dealing with depression at work can be challenging, but with the right support and strategies, it is possible to find a more fulfilling and balanced professional life.

My Boss Is Making Me Depressed, What Should I Do?

If you find that your boss is a key factor in your feelings of depression, addressing this situation requires a careful and thoughtful approach. First, assess whether the issue is specific behaviors or communication styles that are affecting you, or if it’s the overall work environment. Reflect on what specifically about the actions or management style of your boss is contributing to your feelings of depression.

One practical step is to try and communicate your concerns directly with your boss, if you feel safe and comfortable doing so. This conversation should be approached professionally, focusing on how certain behaviors impact your work and well-being, rather than personal accusations. It’s beneficial to prepare beforehand, perhaps by writing down specific examples and how they make you feel.

If direct communication does not seem feasible or doesn’t lead to any improvement, consider reaching out to HR or a higher-level manager, especially if the behavior is part of a larger pattern that affects not just you but others as well. Many companies have procedures for handling such issues, and HR can be a valuable resource in navigating this.

Simultaneously, prioritize your mental health. Engage in self-care practices and seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. They can provide a different perspective and support you in handling the situation.

Finally, evaluate your long-term career goals and happiness within the company. If the situation doesn’t improve, and it continues to have a negative impact on your mental health, it might be worth considering a change in your work environment. This could mean transferring to a different department, seeking a new job, or even exploring new career paths that better align with your personal well-being and professional aspirations.

Remember, your mental health is paramount, and while navigating workplace challenges can be difficult, taking steps to protect and improve your well-being can help you make meaningful changes.

Getting Treatment for Work Depression

Dealing with depression stemming from work requires a proactive approach towards treatment and self-care. 

Seek professional help

The first and most fundamental step is to seek help from a mental health professional. A therapist or counselor can provide an accurate diagnosis, help you understand the underlying causes of your depression, and develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan might include therapy sessions, medication, or a combination of both.

Explore therapy options

Various forms of therapy can be effective in treating work-related depression. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is particularly helpful in changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Other therapy forms, such as interpersonal therapy or solution-focused therapy, can also be beneficial, depending on your specific needs.

Medication

In some cases, medication might be recommended as part of your treatment plan. Antidepressants can be effective in managing the symptoms of depression, but they should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional, with an understanding of their effects and potential side effects.

Lifestyle changes

Incorporating healthy lifestyle changes can also play a significant role in managing depression. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices like yoga or meditation can improve your overall well-being and resilience.

Stress management techniques

Learn and practice stress management techniques. This can include time management skills, relaxation exercises, deep breathing, or engaging in hobbies that relax and rejuvenate you.

Support systems

Having a strong support system is always beneficial for mental health. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who understand what you’re going through. Sharing your experiences and feelings with others can provide emotional relief and practical advice.

Work-life balance

Strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This involves setting boundaries between your professional and personal life and ensuring that you have time for activities that you enjoy and that relax you.

Workplace accommodations

Consider discussing possible accommodations at your workplace. This might include flexible working hours, a change in work responsibilities, or the possibility of remote work. Many employers are becoming more understanding of mental health needs.

Education and self-awareness

Educate yourself about depression and its impact on your life. Understanding your condition better can empower you to take control and make informed decisions about your treatment and coping strategies.

Remember, seeking treatment for work-related depression is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s also an important step towards improving your quality of life, both at work and in your personal life. With the right support and treatment, it is possible to overcome the challenges posed by work-related depression and find a path to a happier, healthier work life.

Get Treatment for Depression at Connections

Depression can be disruptive and debilitating, but it’s also treatable. If you find that work is depressing, we can help you tackle depressive symptoms and restore functioning when you engage with inpatient mental health treatment at Connections in Southern California.

We designed our beachside facility to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment. Our team of passionate mental health professionals is committed to guiding you through individualized and highly structured therapies that may include medications, psychotherapies, motivational therapies, and holistic interventions. You can also participate in individual and group counseling with a small number of peers undergoing similar experiences – we limit intake to six individuals at any one time to balance the personalized face-to-face attention with the power of peer support.

Call 844-759-0999 when you are ready to make positive changes in your life.

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