Are you too depressed to work?
Everyone gets sad from time to time, but the major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious mental illness
If you have DMM, there are massive consequences.
Your symptoms of depression can be crippling, and the statistics back it up!
The World Health Organization lists depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide.
If you’re having trouble working during a depressive episode, don’t beat yourself up over it. This is not something you can “snap out” of with willpower.
Mental health issues can be just as detrimental to your ability to work as physical health conditions.
Thankfully, there are options available for what to do, to get you back on your feet and confident at work.
- Why Does Depression Cause Disability?
- What Can You Do for Depression at Work?
- How to Recover? Take Time Off Work!
- Should you Change Jobs?
- How to Maintain Perspective?
- Find Hope with New Treatment Options
Why Does Depression Cause Disability?
Many people think the symptoms of depression are based largely with mood:
– lack of pleasure
– negative outlook
– and low self-esteem
This can be the case for someone with mild depression, which often responds quite well to talk therapy.
Severe depression is a different situation.
If you have severe depression, it can cripple your energy levels, your ability to focus, your appetite to fuel your body, and your sleep patterns.
There are profound biological changes that happen within you, including changes in hormone levels, sleep cycles, and brain structure.
When this happens, it can be impossible to get out of bed, much less have a productive eight-hour workday.
So if you’re suffering from depression, your whole body is going through it as well.
What Can You Do for Depression at Work?
First, don’t beat yourself up.
This is not a character flaw or weakness. It is a medical issue that requires treatment.
If this isn’t your first go-round with depression and anxiety, you may have some tools at your disposal for positive mental health and well-being.
Maybe you’re on antidepressants; keep taking them, or speak with your doctor about adjusting your dosage.
Ask your therapist to coach you through your bad periods while working; they may be able to meet with you during your lunch break or over email.
If you’re too depressed to work:
- Take short breaks with a meditation app when you need them.
- Get outside for a walk in the fresh air.
- Go to the gym on your lunch breaks.
- Pack a nutrition-filled lunch and avoid carbs.
All of the above will keep your energy levels up. Avoid these foods if you’re depressed.
When you get home, maintain good sleep hygiene. It will help you stay rested, regulate mood and your mental state.
If you don’t have a team of mental health professionals, put one together ASAP.
Use the back of your health insurance card to find a therapist and/or psychiatrist in your area. Before signing on with one, Google them to ensure other patients had good experiences.
Your team can help provide guidance and advice as you see how much you can push yourself at work.
Too Depressed to Work? Take Time Off to Recover
When you’re too depressed to work, you may get to a point where your deep depression is bad enough that your mental health professionals advise you to take some time off work while treatment is adjusted.
If it’s taking tremendous amounts of effort to get through the day and your work is suffering, it’s probably time to take time off work.
If hiding your symptoms is proving difficult and coworkers are noticing a change in behavior, it’s appropriate to regroup.
This might not mean you stop working altogether. You could work from home or take a week off while your medication is increased.
In other situations, it may take longer to start or switch medications.
In the U.S., many employees qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees your job will be protected for 12 (unpaid) weeks if you are absent for a medical reason.
Being unpaid for a period of time can be a significant financial burden, but if your work is suffering to the degree that you can’t perform your responsibilities, it’s a better option to take the time to get well than to lose your job.
Also remember that mental illness is as real as any physical illness, and your health should be a priority.
If an FMLA leave is needed, be sure to talk to your HR department. Remember that they hired you for a reason and value your contributions to the company.
It’s their job to help employees when health issues pop up, and the Americans with Disabilities Act has laws in place to protect people with mental illness.
The only information they need for FMLA is a certification from your doctor. Any additional details are kept confidential and cannot be legally disclosed to your manager or coworkers.
In any scenario, stay in touch with your psychiatrist to monitor any changes to your medications. This will ensure the best possible response to your treatment and help you get back to work feeling better.
Should You Change Your Jobs?
What you do every day for 8hrs per day matters. Who you’re surrounded with matters as well.
If you don’t feel like your work is meaningful and/or the environment is dreadful, you’re not in a good place.
Again, it’s important to note that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Even with treatment, it’s possible that your symptoms are bad enough to make it difficult to work a 40-hour workweek.
If this is your situation, you have options.
You could talk yo your boss about working from home to avoid some triggers.
You could provide your skills on a freelance basis through a resource like Upwork. You could enter the service industry by driving for Uber or Lyft or doing something else that’s not 9 to 5.
Disability benefits are also an option.
Some states offer this on a temporary basis. On a federal level, the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs will provide your retirement benefits early (including Medicare), though approvals can be difficult.
Even with full documentation, this process can take years, so you may want to hire a lawyer who specializes in disability law. Many of these lawyers only take fees once your benefits have been approved.
How to Maintain Perspective
Many people get their identities and value from their work.
Depression brings feelings of guilt on its own. Coupled with the inability to work, it can foster shame.
But you are valuable beyond what you do for work, and your depression doesn’t have to last forever.
Remember that you’re not alone.
Dark thoughts can be especially heavy during this time, so reach out to family and friends for support. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a website and can be reached 24/7 at 800-273-8255, should you need it.
It can be hard to work when you have depression, so give yourself credit for getting the right treatment and following through. You’ll be able to get back to work stronger and more resilient.
Find Hope in New Treatment Options
If you’re on antidepressant medication and symptoms are still bad and you are too depressed to work, you shouldn’t give up on feeling better.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a depression treatment that has shown great results, particularly in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
- TMS works by reactivating parts of the brain that become dormant from depression.
- TMS is highly effective and doesn’t come with the side effects associated with antidepressants.
- TMS is also covered by insurance and Medicare.
- A typical TMS treatment takes 18 to 19 minutes, and you can drive afterward, meaning you could do it during your lunch break at work.
If you’d like to try TMS, Success TMS is a national provider with locations across the country.
You can learn more at SuccessTMS.com, or give us a call at 855-943-3232 to check your insurance coverage and get started.
I am so glad you reached out.
First, you are not alone, the holidays are often very difficult for people suffering from depression.
The thought is often you “should” feel happy but cannot or do not. Please know that this is not representative of who you are as a person, but rather a symptom of the condition you have.
It is treatable, and in recent years, oral antidepressants are not your only option.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS is an FDA approved non-invasive, non-medication treatment for depression. Performed in a clinic, it is a less than 20-minute treatment using magnetic pulses targeted at the brain.
You can drive yourself to and from treatments without any restrictions and little to no side effects. It is a treatment course, which means it does not have to be ongoing, and it is a great alternative for people who don’t tolerate medications or don’t get relief.
Please do not give up. You have other options. I encourage you to look into TMS, as this would be a great potential treatment for you given how you are feeling. It can be better.
Good luck to you.
I have outbreaks of depression where it’s overwhelming. I’m in an episode as I type this. I’m not the type to call in to work but when this happens I have no choice. I don’t have insurance. I don’t know how to tell my employer that I’m suffering and when these days happen it’s impossible to go into work. Everything starts off okay and then I fall apart
I am so sorry that you are suffering.
Remember, Depression is a condition you have; it is not who you are or what defines you.
You are working harder than you have to now not only to show up to work but to hide your depression symptoms at work.
There is treatment out there, this can be better. If you are a full-time employee, you might be eligible for medical leave under FMLA.
You have nothing to be embarrassed of, Jane, and your employer does not need to know details. Taking some time to get treatment and get well can save you many future unnecessary sick days.
Take care of yourself; you deserve it. A job and a career is difficult enough; you don’t need to carry the extra burden of depression.
Get help. Treatment is out there for you.
I have Bipolar II Disorder and I am unable to get my new medication until my insurance goes through. My depression has been so horrible lately that I literally like hate everything, everyone, I work with 4 year olds and have absolutely patience whatsoever for them. I already dislike this job and am looking for other employment, particularly employment in which I would mainly be working alone. But I don’t know if I am going to make it through this week, 1. I can barely do my job right now just because I am so irate ALL DAY LONG. It takes a lot for my depression to get the better of me like this, to the point where I don’t feel like I can’t do my job or that I am not doing my job well right now. What would you recommend?
I am severely depressed and I don’t believe that drugs or talk therapy is for me. I’m a very closed person and the Depakote and Quiatapine they tried giving me I will not take. What other options are available? I’m currently under no care and am progressively getting worse. It is Christmas Eve and my depression is evident along with bitterness and anger.
What can I do?
I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling so much because of the depression symptoms.
Remember, depression is not representative of who you truly are or what you are truly capable of accomplishing.
Working with pre-school age children is tough, and even tougher when depression is affecting your tolerance. I recommend that you don’t make any decisions in the context of your depression, as you might feel differently about the job when your symptoms are treated.
I would talk to your doctor/prescriber and see what other options you have in the meantime while you are waiting for your insurance to approve your new medication.
Ask your doctor about TMS, as it is a possible alternative for you to treat your current depressive episode.
This entire Covid-19 situation has me anxious. I am forced to work because I am essential but I am also at high risk with diabetes 2 and asthma. I have not been able to drive since I have had several seizures but the neurologists have not been able to figure out what is causing them. I am forced to stay shut in when I am off work. Activities that I enjoy like dining out, going to museum or park or movies or plays are not available but I am so depressed I am not sure I would even enjoy them if I tried. I am in training for a promotion at work and have been trying to cover up the depression that I am feeling but people are starting to notice that I am off. I am the only one working and must provide for my 16 year old son. In the past medication did nothing for the depression and sedated me beyond the point of functioning. I need help. I feel helpless and starting to lose hope.
I understand how you are feeling, and you are not alone with your struggles with Depression during COVID-19.
Please know that depression is not a weakness or a flaw, it is a condition, just like asthma and diabetes.
The fact that you are able to continue to push through your workday with the weight of depression is a testament to your true strength and who you really are.
There are many treatment options for depression; medication is only one option. TMS is a non-medication, non-invasive treatment for severe depression. There is a low potential risk of TMS causing a seizure in the general population, so with your personal history of seizure activity, your neurologist would need to clear you for TMS treatment, but it is a possible option for you.
Don’t lose hope. TMS and other treatments are available to you, and should allow you to continue working.
Please ask your provider about the other treatment options.
The last couple months I’ve missed so much work like 4 days off sick because of anxiety of not being able to function . Getting up in the morning and getting going sometimes is tough and the last two days I’ve been upset . I’ve recently quit a job because I couldn’t cope with stress and went to a less stressful job but going a k has taken its toll on me mentally in that The job provides me with no job satisfaction and brings down my mood
My family and I were recently involved in a terrible accident which resulted my first born being a quadriplegic, he just passed his matric and was getting ready for college and he also became a man, from the bush. He spent 4 months ever since the accident between UCT medical centre and Vincent Palloti hospitals and only came back home recently- a week ago. From the day of the accident until now I have never been myself, this is in addition to the circumstances I work under in Manenberg community and staff related problems, So I have been making a lot of mistakes both in my personal life and at work. The trauma and stress that I am experiencing is beyond me but I had to keep going for the sake of my family and the staff I manage at work. I recently made a terrible mistake which constituted a hearing against me from work. I never received any kind of support from work and feel like am suffocating, to make matters worse my manager has been discussing me with my subordinates which I think is not professional.
I tried calling EAP after I referred myself for counseling but all the counselors were busy and am still waiting for their call. Is there any advice I can get from your side. Please assist, I value my work and my colleagues but I feel really suffocated and stressed.
I have missed 5 shifts in a row because I’m so depressed I can barely get out of bed or even brush my hair and teeth or get dressed. Now I really need to go tomorrow but the idea of returning after missing so many shifts gives me anxiety so bad. My heart will literally be beating out of control at the thought of facing my boss. He already dislikes me and makes me nervous. I have had my mental health under control without medication for many years now. However I lost my mom to cancer earlier this year and ever since this happened my depression and anxiety have spiraled out of control. What should I do. I have no health insurance and two young children to think of.
I am so sorry that you are going through such a difficult time, Kimberly.
You should applaud yourself for being proactive for your own well-being, seeking out help or guidance in any way. Depression and anxiety can be episodic, so even though you have had a period of time that it was well-controlled, with your recent stressors of losing your mother and the situation with your boss at work, it sounds like another episode has been triggered. The good news is this is very treatable, and the fact that you have felt well before means you can feel well again; your brain is capable of having good moods.
There are community mental health centers in many counties all over the country that help provide behavioral health services for those who do not have insurance coverage and can help you with case management services to perhaps get you some state-funded healthcare coverage. If there is not a community mental health center near you, then the county health department may be equipped to help you and offer you some form of treatment, though usually, it would be medication.
If you are looking for a non-medication option, TMS centers are also all throughout the country and many have scholarship programs that are backed by the manufacturer of the system, such as the NeuroStar system. Help is out there.