Best Way to Manage at Work When You Are Depressed

The physical and mental effects of depression can have a big impact on your work—both your ability to make it to work every day and to be productive. If you’ve spent some time away from work because of depression, returning to your workplace can be awkward.

Depressive symptoms such as sleep problems, aches and pains, fatigue, poor concentration and irritability can interfere with work functioning. You can manage most of these work problems by following some important guide­lines.

Depressed During Work Best Way to Manage at Work When You Are Depressed

It is important to try to improve organization, because concentration and memory problems are part of depres­sion. Start each day with a list of priorities that need to be accomplished. On Sunday, or prior to the first day of your workweek, make a list of things that need to be accom­plished over the week and then note things that need to be accomplished on the next day.

Pacing yourself at work is very important, because depression is associated with increased fatigue. Set rea­sonable deadlines, giving yourself a little longer than usual to complete projects and goals. Make sure you are taking a lunch break every day and, if you have the time at lunch, spend a half-hour in an enjoyable activity. This can include activities like taking a walk outside, talking with a trusted friend, or reading an enjoyable book. Try to limit overtime work, and make sure you are scheduling enjoy­able activities on your weekends. Exercise is often helpful to clear your mind of worries, and it can improve your mood and self-esteem.

Find ways to control your anxiety and irritability in the workplace. Depression can amplify both of these emo­tions. If you are feeling irritable or angry with a coworker or boss, try to take a break and cool down before reap-proaching the situation. If you are more anxious about a project or presentation you have to do, practice with a friend or coworker. Outline small steps to complete in order to finish the project and the time you will leave your­self for each.

If depression causes you to take time from work for more than 3 or 4 days, it is important to get help from a health professional. You may find that some professionals may be more focused than others on helping you resume your activities.

When seeking professional help, be very specific about what you want. Explain that your goal is to resume work­ing as soon as possible; describe your work activities and explain the specific problems you are having on the job. Ask the provider if he or she can help with this problem. If your provider cannot help, ask her/him to refer you to another health professional.

There are some easy ways to judge whether the health provider is likely to help you resume activities. If you answer “yes” to the following questions then you are prob­ably getting the assistance you need to get back to work quickly.

  •  Does the provider have a definite plan for my returning to work or resuming a key activity?
  •  Has a definite time been set for returning to work or resuming a key activity?
  •  Is the provider making a specific plan with either antide­pressant medication or counseling to try to relieve symp­toms like sleep, energy, and concentration problems?
  •  Is the provider willing to write a note or talk to my supervisor to speed my return to work?
Depressed During Work 1 Best Way to Manage at Work When You Are Depressed

If you don’t feel able to return immediately to your pre­vious level of work, you may want to offer to return part-time or start with a reduced workload. The offer will communicate to your employer that you want to work and to return as soon as possible to your prior activities. Many times, returning part-time may be better for you financial­ly than prolonging your time off. In addition, people who return to normal activities, including work, recover faster and have fewer depression problems than those who are not working. Working regularly can take your mind off wor­ries and help you structure your day so that the worries associated with depression will be less painful and dis­tracting. Thus, returning to work is likely to be good for your job security, finances, self-esteem, and health.

When you return to work, the best way to protect your reputation and job security is to be conscientious about your duties and responsibilities. There may be times that you are less productive or have to miss a day, but if pos­sible, you should make the effort to work despite your symptoms.

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