I remember the first time I wrote about depression in the workplace. It was more than 20 years ago, and the response was immediate and surprising.
So many people responded with: "I thought I was the only one going through this" or "I don't know how I'm going to make it."
These days, I think more people are open to discussing their depression and how it affects their lives and the lives of those around them. Do they discuss it as openly in the workplace? I'm not so sure.
About 1 million people in the U.S. are on disability for mental health reasons, and that includes depression. The World Health Organization states that major depressive disorder is responsible for almost half of the lost workplace productivity in the U.S., and is the most prevalent global disability.
I think in the workplace today -- especially with the lack of job security -- many workers may be reluctant to discuss their depression. As a result, they may not get the help they need that is often available through their company's employee benefits plan.
At the same time, I think that many workers are unaware that they are suffering from depression and that it's a real medical condition that can be treated. While symptoms may vary in severity and duration, it's recommended you see a doctor if you experience five or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood.
- Sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much.
- Reduced appetite and/or weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain.
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
- Restlessness, irritability.
- Persistent physical symptoms that don't respond to treatment (such as headaches, chronic pain or digestive disorders).
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
- Fatigue or loss of energy.
- Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.
- Thoughts of suicide or death.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms. If you think you should play it tough and not get help, think of your career. Depression has been shown to affect workplace productivity -- can you really afford to lose your job because your work performance suffers? Do it for yourself, your family and your career.
Check out the website of Mental Health America for more information on depression and how you can get help.