Depression and Anxiety at Work: What They Are and What to do About Them

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Career depression is a thing. Work-related anxiety is also very real to those who experience it.

Stress is a normal part of life, and in fact, any long-term “stress free” scenario would end up being counterproductive. What would motivate you to go to work and pay your bills? A base level of stress is normal in everyone’s life. The problem comes when it becomes overwhelming and induces debilitating depression and irrational anxiety (anxiety disorder) for someone.

Stressed at work

It should not come as a shock that most working Americans experience stress at work.

According to a Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) stress and anxiety disorders survey, the following is worth noting:

Among those surveyed, reported stress and anxiety was culprit to most often impact:

  • Quality of work (50 percent claimed)
  • Performance in the workplace (56 percent… this would be considered “performance anxiety”)
  • Working relationships with coworkers (51 percent)
  • Working relationships with supervisors/bosses (43 percent)
  • Personal life (75 percent: 83 percent men, 72 percent women)
  • Personal relationships with spouse or significant other (70 percent: 79 percent men, and 61 percent women)

Not surprisingly, the dominant “go-to” behavior for coping with work-related depression, stress, and anxiety? For 44 percent of both men and women, it’s to sleep more. Other stress “escapes” include: drinking more alcoholic beverages (20 percent), over-the-counter meds (23 percent), more frequent exercise (25 percent), smoking (27 percent), and more caffeine (31 percent).

Career depression (work-related depression, career disillusion, etc.) and anxiety at work

Have you ever been depressed at work? Had an anxiety attack or panic attack? Felt non-stop anxiety? Had difficulty concentrating on work, or maybe you’ve been exhausted and felt unable to keep up because you’re having trouble sleeping? Have you frequently felt on the verge of tears, or felt overwhelmed or like an “exposed nerve?” Have you ever felt like you just needed to “push yourself” through, and then you’ll feel OK later? Maybe some combination of the previously mentioned scenarios?  .

As we mentioned earlier, some level of stress at work is to be expected. Maybe you’ve upset a client, feel like you have more than your fair share of work, or have a big presentation coming up – Job burnout is very common. But depression and anxiety at work can develop into a serious problem.

To make matters worse, when you feel extremely uneasy, depressed, chronically stressed, or anxiety at work, you might begin to develop additional anxiety about your boss’ assessment of your work, or about your job’s stability.

More on depression and anxiety at work

One defining characteristic of depression and anxiety involves a distinct feeling of helplessness, like you have no control whatsoever over your situation.

You may feel like you need to speak with your boss, supervisor, or HR office, though many people are reluctant to because they don’t want to be viewed as “a problem,” or “incompetent,” or “weak.”

There are definitely some things you can do, some things that are within your control. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Get organized.It may seem like a waste of time when you feel you have so much to do, but tidying your desk and filing things away where you can easily find them later will end up saving you time, help you feel on top of your game, and even divert a catastrophe down the road.
  • Take control. Become acquainted with the symptoms of anxiety/anxiety disorder, and learn how to manage them when you experience them unexpectedly.
  • Manage your time effectively.Thoughtfully set goals, and get in the habit of creating and checking off to-do lists for every day and for every week overall. Learn to prioritize your tasks, and get yourself onto a disciplined schedule.
  • Prepare to plan, plan to prepare.Dive right in to big projects as early on as you can. Get ahead of your work schedule as much as possible. Set intermittent deadlines for yourself. Be proactive about identifying potential problems, and think through how to address them before they happen.
  • Get to work! Easier said than done, but diving in and pushing yourself to excel at work can help take some of the edge off, give you a sense of accomplishment, and improve your confidence and self esteem.
  • Set your own standards of excellence.Focus on the quality of your work so you don’t have to backtrack and redo anything if it can be avoided.
  • Be ambitious, be disciplined, but be gentle with yourself. Be realistic and avoid overcommitting and overextending yourself.
  • Don’t be shy about asking for help. Especially if you feel overwhelmed. You can always return favors later when someone else needs your help.
  • Speak your mind. Communicate, and articulate calmly and diplomatically when you feel overwhelmed. Most managers and supervisors are understanding and will do what they can to help you succeed.
  • Talk to a trusted peer/friend at work.It can be very therapeutic to get your worries and anxieties off your chest with someone you trust. Talking through your doubts, concerns, worries, etc. with someone can also give you some valuable perspective.
  • Avoid difficult coworkers. Does it stress you out thinking about how to deal with difficult people? Avoid negativity, gossip, backbiting, bad attitudes, etc. in the workplace. Just press on.
  • Take occasional breaks. About once an hour, take a breather. Walk around the block, enjoy the day, clear your head, breathe deeply. It will help you get refocused and improve your productivity.
  • Celebrate your successes. Never forget to give yourself credit (as well as to those who may have helped you along the way) when you accomplish something you feel good about, even small things.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, mind that you get adequate sleep, get your regular exercise in, and as much as possible, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Your mind will remain sharp and limber, and you’ll always be ready to confront the next challenge.

Keep in mind that, no matter how well you think you may be able to manage your stress, anxiety, and depression at work, you may at some point need to call on a professional to help. One way to know you might need to get help is a chronic painful, uneasy feeling (a.k.a., malaise) that you can’t seem to shake no matter what, and that crippling feeling has infiltrated not only the workplace, but all areas of your life.

It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you’re smart.

Is work leaving you feeling emotionally exhausted, beaten down, overwhelmed, in a panic, or helpless? If you feel you need some guidance to cope with stresses, depression, and/or anxiety at work, consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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