Are you or a loved one affected by depression? One in six people experiences this debilitating illness at some point in their lifetime.
Whether mild and short-term or persistent and chronic, the effects of depression can be devastating. This illness can affect every area of your life, from physical wellness to personal relationships and even your career. If you or a family member are struggling and finding it difficult to continue working, you might be wondering what to do.
Fortunately, there are certain steps to take when faced with this common condition. Read on for the ultimate guide on what to do when you’re too depressed to work.
What Is Depression?
Depression – or ‘major depressive disorder’ is a medical illness that can negatively affect how you feel, think, and act. Medical professionals may diagnose you with this condition if you experience symptoms for more than two weeks.
Symptoms of depression can be physical or mental and range from mild to severe.
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Low mood and feelings of sadness
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Weight increase or loss
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Fatigue and low energy
- Feelings of low self-worth
- Disruption of thought processes
- Thoughts about self-harm or suicide
Depression and Work
If you’re experiencing a depressive episode, you may find that low energy or fatigue makes it difficult to get through the working day. Disruption of thought processes could mean that your attention span is limited. It can make it difficult for you to complete tasks or hit deadlines.
If you’ve lost enthusiasm for your work or have a low mood, you may have difficulty collaborating with coworkers or communicating with your team. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take steps to get back on track.
What to Do When You’re Too Depressed to Work
If you feel that a depressive episode is affecting your work, the most important thing is not to suffer in silence. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member will remind you that you’re not alone.
When your self-worth is low, it’s crucial to remember that your network of loved ones supports you. Even if they’re not in a position to advise you or offer practical solutions, a problem shared is a problem halved.
If you have a therapist, it may be worthwhile discussing with them how you’re feeling about work. Let someone you’re close to know what’s happening and how it’s affecting your ability to work.
Tell Your Doctor
If you’re feeling too depressed to work, you must seek medical help immediately. Your support network is there for emotional support, but it’s crucial to get a medical opinion from a therapist.
Your doctor will be able to assess the severity of your current depressive episode and make a diagnosis. They will also be able to outline the types of help available to you and make recommendations. It might mean a referral for a specific kind of therapy or suggest trying some medication.
Your doctor will also be able to assess whether continuing to work will be detrimental to your recovery. They may suggest that you change your current work circumstances. Depending on your situation and the severity of your symptoms, they may even recommend that you take time off work.
Discuss With Your Workplace
Is work contributing to your current mental health issues? If you have a very demanding or stressful job, it may be that you need to make some changes to feel well enough to continue working.
If you feel able to – let your manager or HR department know about your current difficulties with depression. If you’re able to identify specific triggers in the workplace, be honest about these.
It may be possible to make changes to your current role and responsibilities so that work feels more manageable. For example, if you’re involved in a very high-pressure project, see if someone else can take over for a while.
Take a Break
Depending on your job and the type of work you do, it may be possible for you to switch to a different schedule, work from home, or work part-time for a period. These changes may provide enough relief to help you get back on your feet.
It can be scary discussing mental health with employers. You might be worried that they don’t recognize the difference between employees who are depressed or lazy.
You could take a loved one with you for moral support if you’re feeling nervous. Remember, mental health issues are prevalent. Your boss or supervisor could likely have or had a similar experience of depression, whether themselves or someone they know.
Depression is a recognized disability. Your doctor might have written you a note confirming that your current illness means that you should avoid working if possible.
With this confirmation, you may be eligible to apply for social security benefits. If you’re able to take time off work, it’s highly recommended that you take advantage of this.
Work On Recovery
It’s often said that health has to come first, but how readily do we put this into practice?
We need to treat mental health with the same care and compassion as any physical illness would be. If you broke a leg or had surgery, you’d take the time to recover afterward, right?
You – and your employers – should take this seriously.
You’re unlikely to feel better without taking the time to rest and recuperate. Like walking on a broken leg – struggling on without treatment will only delay your recovery.
If you can access talking therapy, you may find that this is an effective method of working through your depression. If your depression is persistent or chronic and you’ve had little success with therapy or medication, you may consider exploring other treatments, such as TMS.
Benefits of TMS
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS, is a non-invasive therapy that uses magnetic stimulation on the brain. This process can change the ‘wiring’ in your brain at a molecular level – helping to change dysfunctional thought processes seen in depression and other mental illnesses.
This form of therapy has been found to be more effective than talking therapy or medication in some patients. If you feel like you’re too depressed to work, this may be the solution you need.
This Too Shall Pass
Throughout this challenging period in your life, you may feel like you’re losing hope. If you don’t know what to do when you’re too depressed to work, it’s important to remember that this will pass. Now is the time to lean on your support network and accept help. With their support, explore the different options available to you.
For more information on TMS and how it may help with depression, contact us for a free consultation.