While holiday cheer is a great thing for many of us, some of us suffer from depression, and the holidays can be an additional stressor. “High expectations, money woes, and other holiday hazards can spell trouble for anyone, but especially those prone to depression,” according to Health.com. So, what should you do in the office? What warning signs should you look for in your employees?
I turned to Licensed Professional Counselor, Stephanie Meldrum, to help guide managers through what can be a difficult situation. She immediately set me straight: “We wouldn’t write an article helping managers look for signs of other illnesses that employees were trying to keep private. But somehow we treat depression differently, when in reality, many illnesses can impact an employee’s work performance.”
To keep reading, click here: How you should manage depression in the workplace
10 thoughts on “How You Should Manage Depression in the Workplace”
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Thanks. That’s so weird, because it was the correct link, but it wouldn’t work for me either. So I “fixed” it by going in and re-saving and now it appears to be working.
Few people who suffer from depression are going to admit it, because they’re afraid of the stigma that other people attach to it. I was diagnosed as Bipolar Type 2 over 30 years ago and take meds for it every day. It has never interfered with my ability to do my job, but there are times when I experience “situational depression” due to work stress, physical ailments, financial problems, etc. Do I dare tell anyone? No! Because once you identify yourself as having a “mental illness,” no one will ever treat you as “normal” again. You can’t even have a “normal” bad day like everyone else, and if you get into a legitimate argument with someone, no matter how restrained you are, your words and actions will still be blown out of proportion. That’s just the way it is, and anyone who tells you otherwise has never experienced clinical depression first-hand. As for those EAPs, most are totally useless and even dangerous for people who are already under the care of a private physician. EAP counselors don’t know the patient’s history and, I’ve discovered, can give advice that’s contradictory to what the physician who knows that patient has recommended. I wouldn’t use the EAP for all the money in the world — I don’t trust that the counselors are any good, and I don’t trust that they’ll keep information confidential. If I was really having a hard time with depression, I’d want extra time off so that I could see my own doctor, get my meds adjusted, and perhaps get some rest. But I sure wouldn’t share any of this information with anyone at work, especially not my supervisor or anyone in HR. No one I work with has the slightest clue that I’m bipolar and on mood stabilizing meds, and they’d be shocked if they knew. They think I’m one of the calmest, most efficient employees, and part of the reason is that the meds work. However, if I were to reveal that I have a mental illness, my career would be over. So while some people who are suffering from “the blues” might benefit from using the EAP, people with long-term mental illness who are already managing their depression won’t benefit from it. They won’t even tell you about it. If they are facing a crisis, what they really need is time off with no questions asked.
I totally agree with you that mental illness has a stigma that other illnesses don’t. EAPs shouldn’t be contradicting your physician and if they are telling you to do things like that you should report them. They should refer you to a physician if you need one, but if you have one they should say, “You need to follow the advice of your physician.”
The EAP can be immensely helpful at the beginning of a mental illness–when you don’t know what to do about it. In the middle? You’re right. Not so much.
Suzanne, normally I agree with or appreciate the perspective on most of your posts but on this on I adamantly, strongly disagree. The OP was about the impact holidays and too many “cheerful” parties have on people and possibly someone with depression might feel it stronger than someone who doesn’t have depression. The article ended with what I read as penalizing someone for performance issues. That logic and approach is exactly why no one who struggles with mental illness will EVER bring it up, as the earlier commenter pointed out. As Ms Meldrun stated, why would one treat one illness differently than another one? Because of the inaccurate, misinformed stigma of anything “mental”. Those of us who have the “privilege” of battling a mental illness live with every day, 24/7. I’m not talking about winter blues, I’m talking about a disease that has no physical symptoms, is the butt of jokes, has no cure in some cases, and we didn’t ask for it by leading some type of bad lifestyle habits. Each individual reacts differently to medications, changes in said medications or in the worse case scenario, medication just doesn’t work. As someone close to me said, it is worse than hell because the assumption is that one has done something to deserve being in hell, one has done nothing to deserve depression or anxiety or any other mental illness. Can someone who is left handed suddenly be right handed? No, and “think positively” or “smile more” or ” suck it up, try harder” doesn’t cure mental illness.
If I am brave enough to go to my manager to say “look, this is what’s going on”, what I ask for and hope for is, “I’m so sorry, that’s got to be tough. Take the time you need or let me know if there is anything I can do to make it easier for you on those bad days”. To penalize someone for “performance issues” because they have a mental illness is the equivalent of penalizing someone for having chemo side effects over which they have no control. I know you don’t subscribe to that philosophy and this post does not reflect your usually fair approach.
I am dealing with severe depression and it has a huge impact at work. I get a double hit because I can’t find a good doctor who takes the time to figure out which medicine might work to ease my pain and a toxic workplace that blames me for their dysfunction when I say or do something that is considered out of line in this culture. If I were ex-military and said I had PTSD, maybe people would nod their head and say “oh that’s too bad” or if I limped from surgery, then people could say “of course you are in pain” but with mental illness, it is invisible. Don’t penalize someone for that over which they have no control. I work with plenty of bullies, that’s where the focus of “performance issues” should be, not on the person who’s doing their hardest to be a good employee and is doing it with one hand tied behind their back (figuratively speaking)
The problem is, it’s not a company’s job to treat your illness. They need to get a job done, and sometimes that’s difficult when you’re ill–whether it be a physical or a mental illness. Companies should absolutely make reasonable accommodations, but reasonable is key. You can’t expect your boss to say, “oh, you can’t do any work at all? We’ll keep paying you!” but you can expect your boss to say, “What do you need to be able to get your work done? Flexible schedule? Telecommuting? Different shift?” those things can be (but are not always) reasonable accommodations.
If you’re being attacked by bullies because of your mental illness, your company should absolutely address that. It’s probably illegal, as it would be discrimination on the basis of a disability.
When you keep on treating everything so seriously then depression comes along. Office work is really stressing, we just need a break, this holiday season, just relax. Everything will come to pass.
Depression is not the same thing as being stressed. Relaxation doesn’t cure true depression.
It’s your decision to tell your employer about your anxiety disorder. Some people do so because they need accommodations, others want to educate people about their condition, and some do not want to hide their illness.
I must say that overall I am really impressed with this blog.It is easy to see that you are impassioned about your writing. I wish I had got your ability to write. Such a good style of writing.
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