Depression in the Workplace: Tips for Managers
by Elizabeth Peterson, MFA
Depression is a mental illness characterized by feelings of profound sadness and lack of interest in enjoyable activities. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. Depression is not the same as a blue mood, nor is it a personal weakness; it is a major, but treatable illness. Depression can last for weeks, months, or years. People with depression may recover without treatment. However, the longer depression lasts and the more times it recurs, the more likely it is that treatment will prove necessary.
What Causes Depression?
The precise cause of depression is not known. Causes may be genetic, mental, physical, or environmental, including:
What Are the Symptoms of Depression in the Workplace? TOP
Symptoms of depression are highly variable from person to person. Some people have only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms may also vary over time. In the workplace, symptoms of depression often may be recognized by:
What Are the Treatment Options? TOP
Treatment of depression usually includes medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. The medications help relieve symptoms, while psychotherapy helps employees learn more effective ways of dealing with problems or identifying and resolving the conflicts contributing to their depression.
What's the Next Step? TOP
Clinical depression can be treated successfully. The key to recovery is that symptoms are recognized early and that employees get the treatment they need. Many companies are helping their employees with depression by providing training on depressive illnesses for supervisors, access to employee assistance programs (EAPs), and access to occupational health personnel. Such efforts may contribute to significant reductions in lost time and job-related accidents as well as marked increases in productivity.
Here is what you can do:
The Good News TOP
Successful treatment of depression enables people with the disease to return to satisfactory, functioning lives, and nearly everyone who undergoes treatment gets some degree of relief. With early recognition, intervention, and support, most employees can overcome their depression and pick up their lives and careers where they left off.
National Institute of Mental Health
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.ni.... Accessed May 9, 2011.
Depression in the workplace. National Mental Health Association website. Available at: http://www.nmha.org/. Accessed June 11, 2003.
Depression in the workplace. University of Michigan Depression Center. Available at: http://www.depressioncenter.org/understanding/workplace.asp. Accessed May 9, 2011.
The effects of depression in the workplace. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/. Accessed June 11, 2003.
What to do when an employee is depressed: a guide for supervisors. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depemployee.cfm. Accessed June 11, 2003.
Last reviewed May 2011 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 5/9/2011