Depression in the Workplace: What We Can Do

By: Pine Rest Staff

Although you might not know it, depression touches everyone in the workplace. Affecting nearly one in ten adults each year, depression is one of the top reasons for lost productivity, sick days taken and disability leave. Unaddressed depression in the workplace can contribute to lower profits and morale as well as increased mistakes and accidents.

By understanding the warning signs, we can help employees and coworkers seek treatment for this debilitating medical illness sooner, so that they need not suffer needlessly. 

Work-related stress such as work-life interface, job strain, discrimination, harassment or employment insecurity can contribute to, exacerbate or prolong a depressive episode.

Everyone in the workplace can help to address this issue. Employers can help reduce the effect of work-related stress as well as depression-related lost productivity and disability by adapting proactive workplace mental health policies. These can include access to mental health through an employee assistance program, support of employees upon return to work with flexible re-entry policies, campaigns to increase depression

Depression Symptoms

A person may be depressed if they have at least five of these symptoms occurring nearly every day for at least two weeks:

  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Having little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Experiencing a change in appetite with weight loss or weight gain
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Being tired, fatigued and having no energy
  • Feeling worthless or guilty that you have let yourself or your family down
  • Moving slowly or the opposite – being overly fidgety and restless
  • Having difficulty thinking or concentrating on things such as reading the newspaper or watching TV
  • Letting personal hygiene go – not bathing or not dressing well
  • Recurring thoughts of hurting yourself

Depression Symptoms You May Notice in the Workplace

  • Procrastinating, missed deadlines
  • Increased errors
  • Trouble concentrating, forgetful, scattered, absentminded
  • Indecisive, unsure of abilities, lack of confidence
  • Late to work, missing work
  • Tired all the time
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Loss of interest in work or socializing with colleagues
  • Irritable or emotional outbursts
  • Posing safety risks, accidents
  • Increased alcohol and/or drug use

Why a Person Might Not Seek Help

Most depressed people want help, but there may be a barrier. Many are unaware they have depression, they just know they feel sick, tired and not themselves. Others may not know how to ask for help or are too fatigued to be proactive. Some may fear losing their job or career opportunities, cost or have confidentiality concerns.

What You Can Do To Help

  • Talk to the person in private about what you’ve noticed.
  • Encourage them to use your company’s confidential EAP (Employee Assistance Program) which is usually free, or make an appointment with their primary care doctor or a trained behavioral health professional.
  • Let them know depression is a very treatable illness, not a failing on their part.
  • If concerned about discrimination or privacy, let them know depression is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Support their treatment plan.
  • Reassure them they will feel better
  • Be a good listener.
  • Learn more about depression and its symptoms.

What Your Organization Can Do

If you’re in leadership or management, there’s much you can do to support your employees with depression.

How Pine Rest Can Help

Pine Rest provides treatment for depression and other mood disorders at all levels of care. Our clinicians are trained to provide many different psychotherapy treatments including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). We also offer specialty neuromodulation techniques that use electrical or magnetic currents to stimulate or alter brain activity.

Psychiatric Urgent Care Center. Same-day walk-in psychiatric assessments for adults. Patients are evaluated and will leave with an aftercare plan, prescriptions if necessary, and be linked to resources as needed. Open daily. call 616.455.9200 if questions.

Inpatient Hospitalization and Intensive Day Program (Partial Hospitalization). Our Contact Center is staffed 24/7 with licensed clinicians. If you or someone in crisis, please call 616.455.9200 or 800.678.5500. TTY line available at 616.281.6446.

Counseling/Outpatient Services. To schedule a new outpatient appointment, call 866.852.4001.

Teletherapy. Online video service similar to Skype or Facetime.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy.

Employee Assistance Program for all types of organizations. Includes mental wellness hotline, counseling and tools and incudes financial, legal and elder care benefits. 

Learn More About Depression

For more information about depression, visit these resources:

Pine Rest: Depression and Mood Disorders

American Psychiatric Association

Anxiety and Depression Association of American

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Depression is very treatable! Pine Rest provides evidenced-based treatment for depression at all care levels and for all ages.

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