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It is estimated that most Americans will spend around one-third of their lives at their jobs. This means that the people we work with will make up a large portion of the people we interact with and create relationships with throughout our lives. For some, these relationships will be some of the most important and cherished ones we have. Because of this value, it is important to be able to recognize when something is wrong and that a coworker may be struggling with work depression.

Understanding Work Depression

Work depression is more common than people think. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “Major depressive disorder (MDD) is estimated to affect around 16 million Americans and, according to the World Health Organization, is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Among the U.S. workforce, the prevalence of MDD has been estimated at 7.6%.” Additionally, “Depression can result in reduced educational attainment, lower earning potential, increased chance of teenage childbearing, higher unemployment, and increased work disability.” 

If you look around the officeThus, there is a good chance someone is struggling with work depression. One of the keys to being able to better recognize work stress is to better understand what can cause it.

What Are Some Common Causes of Work Depression?

Many aspects of life can lead to depression. It could manifest as a result of genetics or family dynamics. It is often related to issues of addiction or other mental illnesses like bipolar disorder. However, many causes of depression can happen right in the workplace. The following are a few of those common causes:

  • There is too large of a workload and we feel overwhelmed
  • We aren’t maintaining a healthy work/life balance
  • There is a lack of respect in the workplace, including that between coworkers and employer/employees
  • The environment does not feel safe, such as having instances of harassment
  • We aren’t getting enough sleep, or have a poor diet
  • There is financial insecurity
  • We are using alcohol and or substances as coping mechanisms to handle work pressures
  • The work environment does not offer proper time for self-care

If these are the dynamics at the workplace, there is a good chance that people are struggling with work depression. The key is being able to recognize who those people are, and how they can be helped.

Recognizing a Coworker Struggling With Work Depression:

Many people who struggle with work depression try to hide it from their coworkers. They may do this for several reasons, such as a fear of retaliation, a fear of mental health stigmas, and a fear that people will not understand or relate. 

Because this communication barrier often exists, it becomes important to recognize other signs of a depressed coworker. The following are just a few of the signs that a coworker (including employers and employees) may be struggling with work depression:

  • Using alcohol or substances to cope with stressors at work
  • Having trouble communicating thoughts or ideas
  • The quality of their work is suffering
  • Having trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • They don’t talk about anything outside of work like hobbies or their family
  • No longer caring about their hygiene or personal appearance
  • They don’t seem to be getting enough sleep
  • Sudden, otherwise unexplained, weight gain or weight loss
  • They express a sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, or emptiness

If any, some, or all of these signs show up, it is highly recommended to reach out to help a coworker sooner rather than later. It can mean the difference between short-term side effects and long-term consequences.

How to Manage an Employee with Depression and Anxiety

Perhaps the best way to help a coworker who is struggling with depression is to talk with them. They may have been waiting for someone to notice that they are struggling. 

If it is determined that they are struggling with work depression, the next step is to offer to get them some help both at work and away from work. Helping them report their issues to an employer or an HR department can help them either lighten their stressful workload or get the time off they need to take care of themselves. Many workplaces also have programs that can help their employees manage work stress, and depression, and depression which may even include work-covered mental health care.

Recovery in All Areas of Life With The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand that recovery is about healing in all aspects of one’s life. This includes work.

We spend one-third of our lives working, and that one-third can easily disrupt the other two-thirds if we are stressed and depressed while doing it. Yes, work is important and worthwhile, but it is never worth our health and mental well-being. Life is far too short for that.

When a co-worker is struggling with work depression, it can affect everyone around them. This is why being able to recognize a coworker struggling with work depression (such as drinking too much, not communicating, slowed productivity, isolation, etc.) can be so vital. It is also beneficial to know how to help them manage their work depression, such as allowing them some time off, lessening their workload, and connecting them with a therapist or counselor. If you feel like you or someone you know is struggling with work depression or any other issues of mental health or addiction, we can help. For more information about work stress and work depression, please call The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT