5 Ways to Manage Depression at Work

Depression affects about 16 million Americans every year and the World Health Organization says depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression is sometimes completely debilitating but the majority of people with depression continue to live normal lives. The difference is that depression makes normal life much harder. You have less energy, less motivation, and less concentration. That can have a serious impact on your work life. Here are some tips for dealing with depression at work.

Get treatment.

If you’re struggling with depression, the most important thing is to get help. You can start by talking to your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist. Or you can look for a therapist on your own. There are effective methods for treating depression. Depression is typically treated with psychotherapy, sometimes with the help of medication. Seeking professional help for depression is the best way to keep it from interfering in your work and your life in general.

Tweak your schedule.

Depression is a drain on your energy and concentration but there are still times during the day when your energy and concentration are better or worse. Try to schedule your most important or demanding tasks during those times. For example, if you have a lot of trouble getting out of bed, first thing in the morning is probably not the best time for an important meeting. Schedule routine, low-priority tasks for the times of day when you know you’ll be tired and unmotivated.

Make healthy lifestyle changes.

Many studies have found that healthy lifestyle changes support mental health. The biggest factors are healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. Foods that are high in sugar, refined flour, and omega-6 fatty acids–such as fried foods–are inflammatory and worsen depression symptoms. It’s often a good idea to bring a healthy lunch of mainly vegetables, whole grains, and fruits to avoid a dip in mood following a heavy lunch. Also, getting a little exercise during the day, even if it’s just a short walk every hour or so can improve your focus and energy.

Discuss it with your boss.

It’s often hard to discuss a mental health issue with your boss, but it’s probably a good idea. If you had a serious physical health issue that might affect your work, you would discuss it with your boss, but many people still feel a stigma associated with mental health issues. Nevertheless, if your boss knows what’s going on, she can help you make changes that can make your work life more manageable.

Communicate with your colleagues.

Depression tends to make people isolate themselves, which is often a liability in the workplace. Working effectively as a team requires communication, so resist the temptation to isolate yourself. Although it may seem hard, communicating with your colleagues, and going for lunch or coffee together reduces stress, makes you feel better, and makes you work together better.

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