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Depression is a serious mental health issue that can be difficult to manage in any setting, but especially in the workplace. Depression at work can bring a variety of challenges and can have a profound effect on job performance, personal relationships, and overall well-being. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with depression in the workplace effectively so you can get back to functioning at your best.


Some factors, including physical, psychological, and genetic ones, as well as environmental, social, and even seasonal ones, can contribute to the complex condition of depression. And, the workplace might be one of those elements. Your job plays an important part in your life. Depression is difficult enough to manage on your own. Depression at work could make your already-bad situation worse. How can you tell if you are working while depressed and what should you do about it?

What is Work Depression?

In general, the workplace can promote good mental health. When we accomplish a goal we’ve worked hard for, it provides us a purpose, motivation, and satisfaction. On the other hand, employment can also be a source of increased stress and anxiety, which can have a detrimental impact on your mental health. While a poor or toxic work environment may not be the direct cause of your depression, it might exacerbate its symptoms.

Depression at Work costs $1 billion

According to the World Health Organization, depression at work can result in physical and mental health issues and costs the economy $1 billion annually in lost productivity. Behind that number are millions of people, many of whom deal with depression as a result of their employment.

Signs of Depression at Work

Here are a few indicators that you might be suffering from depression at work:

Having trouble focusing

Just can’t seem to concentrate on your work? When you attempt to work while depressed, you may feel as though you are constantly in a fog or in a hopeless frame of mind.

Missing work and deadline

You might start calling in sick or inventing justifications for taking a personal day more often than usual. Therefore, you tend to miss work and deadline. The inability to get work done, avoiding meetings and phone calls, and falling short of personal or professional goals can all be symptoms of depression at work.

Lack of energy and fatigue

Constantly tired? The sense that you lack the vitality to do your work? The presence of chronic weariness may indicate depression.

Depression symptoms exclusively appearing during work 

Depression may be brought on by your place of employment. If you experience depression mostly at work but not as much elsewhere, your employment may be the root cause of your depression. Depression may develop if major workplace problems like harassment, abuse, discrimination, and bullying are unaddressed.

Why might you be depressed at work?

You can be experiencing an increase in depressed symptoms at work for a number of reasons. The following instances, while not all-inclusive, could trigger job depression:

  • Experiencing poor or unsafe working conditions
  • Working in an unhealthy work environment
  • Being overloaded or poorly paid
  • Encountering workplace harassment or discrimination
  • Lacking work-life balance
  • Working in an environment that doesn’t align with your personal values.

How is Productivity Affected by Depression?

Workplace productivity and depression can dramatically conflict with one another. For many people with depression, this is a typical problem. It is estimated that depression and its repercussions cost billions of dollars in lost productivity.

Why is it difficult to maintain performance at work when you’re depressed? It’s because debilitating depression symptoms can occur. These are some ways that depression might reduce productivity:

  • Lack of deficiency
  • Procrastination
  • Absence
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low energy
  • The decline in problem-solving and decision-making abilities
  • Poor communication with others

Has the pandemic affected depression in the workplace?

According to the State of Mental Health in America 2021 study, there was a considerable increase in the number of people seeking treatment for depression between 2019 and 2020. Many people now work from home or only sometimes interact with coworkers and clients as a result of the pandemic. Zoom meetings and Zoom fatigue have become the new standard for many individuals.

People are not only feeling more apprehensive about their health, employment, and financial security, but many individuals are also feeling more alone and detached, which can lead to or exacerbate pre-existing depression.

According to Matos.

Working remotely can be practical in some respects, but it can also further erode the line between personal and professional life. Additionally, if you feel you haven’t accomplished enough, you would probably put in more time at home. This can lead to a vicious cycle in which you work slower and less effectively due to your inability to concentrate due to depression. The cycle then repeats itself as you push yourself to work harder, which makes you feel worse.

Perhaps the demands of your job force you to engage with others in ways with which you are not comfortable, such as returning to a customer-facing position before you are ready, or they make it challenging for you to adhere to social distance rules.

Some employers have forced employees to choose between taking care of their health and returning to work due to insufficient return-to-work procedures during national lockdowns. Depression can also be fueled by anxieties and insecurities about money and health.

Dealing with Depression in the Workplace

Try these suggestions recommended by Depression Open Talks if you’re struggling with depression at work. They are not meant to be a panacea, but they might offer coping mechanisms if you’re struggling with depression at work.

Acknowledge depression:

Recognizing depression may be the first step in managing it at work. Recognize and accept your feelings. What could be causing your depression? Is your depression caused by your job or is there another cause for it? Although difficult to consider or accept, it is crucial for controlling depression at work and elsewhere also.


Thinking about how to treat yourself well requires a lot of effort when you’re dealing with depression. Many of the aforementioned suggestions, such as therapy or counseling, are part of self-care. Additionally, make an effort to include activities that you might love and that might improve your mood, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, hiking, gardening, listening to your favorite music, or a hobby.

Exercise raises endorphin levels, which can lift your spirits. This is the same molecule in the brain that several different antidepressants work to activate. Exercise and sunshine are natural mood boosters, despite their banal-sounding nature.

Plan time away from work: 

Establish clear boundaries between work and personal time as well as your time off so that you have something to look forward to. When work-related stress and your obligations are mostly to blame, looking forward to a vacation might help reduce symptoms of depression at work.

🧾You might be interested in: Post vacation depression: What it is and how to deal with it

Schedule short breaks: 

Get up, stretch, or consider taking your lunch break outside. A brief break from your workstation each day can improve your mood and help you focus more clearly. If you feel like you need a “time out” and you have the opportunity to step outside for a while, take it.

Seek help: 

Depression probably won’t disappear on its own. You must find a specialist with whom you feel comfortable communicating. If your employer provides your health insurance, one of your perks may include access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These programs offer free, private counseling and therapy services. Consider hiring an independent therapist or even group counseling if you’re uncomfortable using services provided by your employer.

Follow your doctor’s plan of treatment: 

You must adhere to your therapist’s or another mental health professional’s recommended course of therapy. You must follow your doctor’s instructions if you’re taking a prescription for depression medication. Never discontinue taking medicine without first consulting a medical professional or therapist. Depression cannot be cured by self-care alone. For long-term depression management, working with a behavioral specialist is crucial along with making small, beneficial modifications to your everyday routine.

Depression at work: Conclusion

For many people, depression at work is difficult. Self-care and daily routine adjustments may be helpful, but for long-term depression management, you must speak with your doctor, a therapist, or a behavioral specialist. Without help, depression may get worse.


How to Deal with Anxiety at Work. (n.d.). Cigna. Retrieved December 3, 2022, from https://www.cigna.com/knowledge-center/how-to-deal-with-depression-at-work

Jelinek, J., & Boland, M. (2021, April 27). How to Cope with Depression at Work. Psych Central. Retrieved December 3, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/depression/depression-at-work

Lindberg, S., & Legg, T. J. (n.d.). Work Depression: What It Is and How to Deal with It. Healthline. Retrieved December 3, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/work-depression

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