Struggling with mental health is an ongoing challenge for many; a challenge that can make many day-to-day scenarios difficult and taxing. Work is one such scenario. Your career can not only be affected by depression or anxiety, but can actually be the root of it. If you’re concerned about your mental health, the best person to consult is a medical professional. That being said, the following information may resonate with you or help you understand the struggles of a loved one or coworker better.
Recognizing the symptoms of depression and anxiety can better help you acknowledge and manage your mental health struggles, or have empathy for others.
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression may occur only once during your life, but generally, people have multiple episodes. When these episodes occur, symptoms may last most of the day during an episode, or on an ongoing daily basis. Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or tearful
- Having angry outbursts; being irritable or easily frustrated
- Losing interest or pleasure in your normal activities such as sports, sex, or hobbies
- Struggling to sleep, and experiencing insomnia or sleep disturbances; sleeping too much
- Experiencing tiredness and a lack of energy to the extent that even small tasks take extra effort
- Having a reduced appetite and experiencing weight loss; or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Feeling anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Having trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent or recurring thoughts about death, suicide attempts, or suicide
- Physical problems that can’t be explained, such as back pain or headaches
The Mayo Clinic reports that the following symptoms are commonly associated with anxiety.
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, doom, or panic
- Increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly or hyperventilating
- Physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, feeling weak, or being tired
- Trouble concentrating or being unable to stop worrying
- Struggling to sleep
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having the urge to avoid anything that triggers anxiety
While there can be many causes for both anxiety and depression, let’s take a look at how work can come into play. A survey by management company Ipsos found that 28 percent of Americans named their place of work as a source of anxiety, and a whopping 55 percent reported that there are some aspects about their job or work environment that cause them anxiety, stress, or sleeplessness.
In the UK alone, 595,000 workers suffer from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. It was also found that the main cause of feeling that way at work is related to workload (44 percent). 14 percent reported a lack of support at work as the cause, and 13 percent reported violence, threats, or bullying as the cause. Of course, anxiety and depression can be caused by many factors, but those key factors are worth acknowledging.
The impacts of depression and anxiety at work are twofold. Of course the employee suffering from the systems associated with either depression or anxiety is the number one priority, but employers can be affected as well, which should serve to motivate them to help their employees through difficult times. Depression ranks among the top three workplace problems for employees, followed by family crisis and stress. The effects are seen more noticeably in women. 76 percent of short-term disability days caused by depressive disorders were attributed to female employees.
According to a survey from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, coworkers can be affected as well. 51 percent of employees reported that stress and anxiety impact their relationships with coworkers and peers, with 43 percent noting that relationships with superiors can be affected.
On a more personal level, 56 percent reported anxiety affecting their workplace performance, with 50 percent admitting the quality of their work is affected by anxiety and stress.
Seeking the health of a medical professional regarding mental health issues is one of the best places to start. The Center for Workplace Mental Health found that 80 percent of employees treated for mental health problems report improvements for both their job satisfaction and productivity, as well as experiencing lower absenteeism. (Another reminder of why employers benefit just as much when their employees are happy and healthy.)
Asking an employer for help is potentially an option. 64 percent of employers surveyed reported that if they are aware of the symptoms, they will refer a depressed employee for help. You should also confide in loved ones about your struggles. Your friends and family are there to help you. Feeling like you aren’t carrying this burden alone is worth a lot more than it may seem.
It’s important to remember to prioritize your wellness during this time. While your primary instinct may to be to give your all to your work in order to prove you’re coping, that course of action can be damaging. Making time for self care is just as important as checking off your to-do list. When you begin to feel anxious at work or are low on energy, take a walk around the building. You’re allowed to take breaks at work and there is no reason you have to take them in the break room. Heading outside is notoriously famous for improving mental health. You could also take a few minutes to meditate, call your mom, or do anything that helps you feel refreshed. You’ll improve your mental health and be more productive if you look after yourself.
If you want to help others, make efforts to ensure your workplace is aware of mental health struggles that may be experienced by coworkers, and how workplaces and employers can provide help and maintain a healthy and safe environment. Working together to solve this issue is a step we all need to take.