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Steps to take if you feel too depressed to work

If you suffer from depression, you may sometimes find it tough to perform the tasks you need to do as part of your job. Occasionally, it may even be too difficult to go to work.

Don't worry, you're not alone. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has shown that mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and stress are the third most common reason for people being absent from work.

Dr Marinus Klijnsma (MBBS, MCRPsych), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford, has looked at how and why depression can impact your work life, and how your job can also affect your mental health. He has outlined the steps that you can take if you are struggling to go to work as a result of your depression.

Depression symptoms that can impact your work

There are symptoms of depression that can affect your ability to work. These can include:

  • Finding it hard to remain motivated
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Losing interest in activities you previously enjoyed

When depressed, people can also isolate themselves, worry excessively about getting work done and feel guilty about letting other people down. They can also find it difficult to talk about how they feel at work, because they feel ashamed that they may be judged.

Work-related triggers that can heighten or cause depression

The relationship between work and depression is one that can work both ways. Depression can impact your ability to perform your job well, and stress at work can also contribute to a person becoming depressed too. Some work-related triggers that can cause major stress include:

  • A high work load
  • Being asked to do things outside your competency level
  • Sudden changes or difficulties with colleagues

What steps should you take if you feel too depressed to work?

When you start to develop symptoms of depression such as feeling low and anxious, struggling to complete your workload, or not being able to manage normal stresses particularly well, it can be good to talk things through with someone you trust. This may be your spouse, another relative or a trusted colleague at work. During this time, try to talk about whether it is the job that is possibly causing your symptoms.

If you feel that your work is contributing to you becoming depressed or you have anxiety about going back to work, try to address the issues with your line manager. If you feel that your symptoms of depression aren't being caused by your job, try to identify what else in your life could be contributing to you feeling depressed and try to address these issues.

It is important to seek help. Visiting your GP can be a good first step, while using Occupational Health support at your work can also be helpful.

Depression treatments available to you

It is important to remember that depression is treatable. There are many different of avenues of support available, such as talking therapies including cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and antidepressant medication if your depression is more severe.

This page was reviewed by Dr Marinus Klijnsma (MBBS, MCRPsych), Consultant Adult Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford

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