Identifying and Dealing With Depression In the Workplace

It’s estimated that 322 million people across the globe currently suffer from depression. Of those 322 million, 40 million are Americans, and 56% of these individuals do not seek professional medical treatment. Even if an individual believes their depression is manageable or “not too serious,” it’s imperative that they speak with a medical professional right away to avoid catastrophic issues down the line.

Depression, when not properly handled, can ruin someone’s life. It can cause serious issues with family members. It can jeopardize long-lasting friendships. And it can completely shatter otherwise healthy marriages.

Depression isn’t just affecting personal relationships, either. Suffering from depression can result in missed career opportunities due to a constant lackadaisical state and even job loss. If an employee misses a certain number of days off in a row, their employer will have no choice but to terminate them, whether they knew about their depression issues or not.

Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are actually three times more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and other issues that could cause them to miss numerous workdays.

“Depression affects cognitive functions such as decision making, concentration, memory and problem solving abilities,” said Dr. Frans Korb, psychiatrist and clinical psychologist. “It negatively impacts on productivity, if an employee has depression and is at work, they are five times less productive than an employee who is absent due to depression.”

According to Cassey Chambers, from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, people with depression actually take 18 days off of work due to their emotional and mental health issues.

“This is one of the reasons why it’s vital to examine how depression is managed in the workplace and what procedures are in place to ensure that affected employees are encouraged to and supported in seeking treatment,” Chambers added.

Business owners should keep an eye on their employees and look out for the various symptoms of depression:

  • Problem-solving difficulties
  • Easily distracted
  • Slower thinking speed
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor concentration
  • Indecisiveness

Here are some steps that business owners can take in order to counter a growing depression-linked crisis within the workplace:

  • Encourage an open and direct conversation — The best thing employers and business owners can do to improve workplace happiness and fight back against depression is to encourage an open discussion about mental health. As long as every member of your staff, from high-level executives to part-time interns, is comfortable with talking about depression, your company’s culture will significantly improve, potentially helping individuals get the help they need. Of course, you should never force anyone to talk about their personal issues or violate their privacy in any way.
  • Prevent financial issues from spiraling — Since financial issues are one of the top drivers of stress, it’s important to not overlook budgeting, wills, trusts, college funds, and other financial aspects when evaluating emotional wellness throughout a workplace.
  • Improve workplace design — The interior design industry generates approximately $10 billion in revenue every year. From furniture items to decorative lighting, there are plenty of ways to improve the look and feel of your workplace that can actually have psychological advantages and strengthen the overall happiness levels of your employees. If your staff sits all day in a dimly lit cubicle, for instance, it might be easier for those negative thoughts to enter their minds and lead to more stress.

If you or anyone you know, whether they are a coworker, close friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger, make sure the right help is being contacted.

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