Work caused depression

SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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    After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department
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    For additional resources, please visit the SAMHSA Store.

Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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Depression and work — if diagnosed, how to tell your boss, colleagues about it

Irina Molodtsova

Author of articles


Depression is not just a “bad mood” or “inability to pull yourself together and tune in to the best”, but a serious disease that must be treated under the supervision of a competent specialist. According to WHO, in Russia in 2017, 8 million people suffered from depression - this is 5% of the population. And after the “covid” 2020, there will be even more cases.

How to talk about depression at work? And what to do if you find out that depression is in your colleague or subordinate? And is it even necessary to know about it?

Why perfectionism hurts your career

If you have been diagnosed with depression, you are not formally required to report it to your boss. But, as practice shows, the disease somehow affects the work process. The same WHO experts note that among the reasons for the absence of employees from work, depression has already come out on top in the world, and among the causes of disability - on the second.

So an honest explanation with management and colleagues will help clarify what is happening for them, and save you unnecessary worries.

What to talk about if you have depression

So, you have decided that you still need to talk to your manager. Let's imagine this conversation.

- Ivan Ivanovich, I was at the doctor's and I was diagnosed with "clinical depression," you say.

The boss looks at you with interest and says, for example:

— What is it? This is when the mood is bad, right?

Since such a question has arisen, it is necessary to clarify that depression is not just a slight spleen that will pass today or tomorrow. This diagnosis is made if a person feels a seemingly unreasonable decrease in mood for at least two weeks, and all this is aggravated by physical weakness, sleep disturbance and appetite. The future seems to him gloomy and hopeless, self-esteem falls, and anxiety and unreasonable guilt increase.

Periods of depression can last six months or more and vary in severity. In difficult cases, a person may not even have the strength to get out of bed or have thoughts of suicide.

However, depression is not always manifested by a decline in strength and mood. It may look like something completely unrelated to the psyche: pain in the heart or stomach, skin diseases, neuralgia. This happens when a person is somewhat disconnected from their emotions and does not respond to them in time.

- Sorry. Can I help you?

Suppose that during the conversation, the leader asks you this question. Think in advance what you will tell him in response, what needs you really have.

Things to talk about with a manager who wants to help:

  • Ask them to give you a time frame: roughly how long the treatment will take.
  • Ask if you have a staff psychologist in your company, who can provide additional support during therapy. Or maybe the company has signed a contract with external specialists - this also happens.
  • Ask for flexible hours. Especially if you have symptoms such as insomnia, drowsiness, or other sleep problems. Adjusting the work schedule for the duration of the treatment would be a good solution in this case.
  • Ask your manager to “break down” your project into smaller tasks. Depression often affects cognition, so you may notice that your performance has declined. Small steps will be easier for you, and small but frequent victories will give you a sense of confidence and help you get out of depression sooner.
  • Agree that you do not take on several tasks at the same time for some time, especially with the same deadlines. Such a load is not easy for a person without depression, and the disease greatly reduces stress resistance.
  • Ask for feedback on your tasks. In a state of depression, you become much more critical of yourself, so that sometimes you cannot objectively evaluate the quality of your work. It will be great if there is a person nearby whose professional opinion you can trust.
  • Make sure you have someone to turn to for help or advice if you get stuck and don't know how to move forward. The advice of colleagues, their help, readiness to pick up the task at such moments will benefit not only you, but also the common cause, will allow the project not to get up, and you not to plunge into the ocean of guilt and self-flagellation even deeper.
  • Discuss additional days of rest (vacation) if the doctor considers them necessary for a speedy recovery.

In a word, it is important to keep in mind: you are sick, not lazy, capricious and intolerable. And ask only for temporary help - for the period when you put yourself and the processes inside the body in order.

To honestly say this to the people with whom you work together and spend a lot of time is not a sign of weakness, but of strength and a responsible approach to business.

How to have a good rest in three days

Recover and accumulate strength for career exploits

What to do if a colleague is depressed

Let's look at the situation from the other side. Your colleague or subordinate comes to you to report a diagnosis of depression.

What to do?

  • Enjoy the healthy atmosphere in the team. In companies where employees are not afraid to discuss their mental health with management and colleagues and expect to receive support, absenteeism is lower and loyalty is higher, according to a Reuters study.
  • Don't discount the problem. Phrases like “Keep your nose up!”, “Pull yourself together!”, “Don't be sad!”, “Do something new and interesting, you will immediately forget about depression” will not help here. On the contrary, try to cheer up a person, tell him that he is doing the right thing, taking care of his health. After all, if he broke his leg, you would be sympathetic to his need to wear a cast and use crutches.
  • Make sure the situation is under medical control and your employee has been selected or will be selected in the near future for a suitable treatment. If your organization provides an opportunity to contact a psychologist, it is worth reminding the person about it.
  • Provide all possible assistance. For example, allow an employee to come in late or work from home part of the time. Listen to his wishes. Be honest with yourself which ones you can satisfy without a workflow crit, and do it.
  • Take care of yourself. Communication with a depressed person can also affect your condition, sometimes causing impotence, irritation, anger. Remind yourself that the state of your employee is temporary, he diligently fights with it and is more interested than others in coping and returning to normal life as soon as possible.
  • Criticize less, praise more. Depression greatly aggravates self-criticism and practically kills the ability to enjoy success. The smallest mistake starts to feel like a failure, and a multi-million dollar contract suddenly falls into the “Well, it could have been better…” category. Do not spare kind words for a colleague, help him see his small and not very successes when he is simply not able to do it on his own.
  • Maintain confidentiality. It is usually difficult for people to talk about health problems. And your colleague, most likely, is counting on help and support - and certainly not on discussing his problems with other members of the team.

Unfortunately, depression is an insidious disease, and no one is immune from it. But if a person recognizes the problem and works to eliminate it, then over time his condition will improve and he will be able to return to a full life and work.

Why are you unhappy at work and what to do about it?

Proofreader/literary editor: Varvara Sveshnikova
Illustration: yokunen / Shutterstock

Do they have depression?


IT anxiety freepic

I work as a psychologist for the employees of an international IT company. I also have long experience in project development in Belarus and remotely.

A very large number of IT people have a problem with anxiety. I think there are a lot more people who have it than those who don't. In 10 years of working in IT in several big and small companies, I have seen anxious people in almost every team, especially in Minsk.


Recently I was approached by a client who seems to be very successful, with a strong character, knows what he wants. But the work is not going well. We also talked about procrastination. Behind her, I saw, among other things, anxiety, unconscious. Eternal worrisome questions:

- Will I be able to complete this task?

- I don't know how to solve it, so I will do something else, solve important issues that are more important than this job.

- Am I good enough compared to others? Am I doing things too slowly?

About the meaning

Sometimes there are problems of a different order: an attempt to find meaning in work and experience due to the fact that it is impossible to find it in editing buttons and creating sites of the same type. An existential crisis is coming.

Such people experience depression from time to time. They mechanically do their job, sometimes very high quality due to perfectionism, but they dream of something else. It’s good if they manage to go to another area or create a variety of leisure activities for themselves.

But there are people who have not learned to give themselves what they need. They do what they know how to do well - complete tasks, earn a lot. But there is a lot of dissatisfaction inside - with oneself, with the company, with the project, with colleagues, with the lack of meaning. It is often unceasing anxiety and an inability to relax.

The person may be overworking because he is gently asked to do so, or he is very diligent and feels guilty if he does not help. So in a couple of months you can burn out. If you are not aware of cause and effect, you can stay in this state for a long time.

What to do?

It is advisable to visit a psychotherapist if you have the following symptoms:

  • Constant fear and anxiety in the morning before work for several weeks.
  • Discomfort on Sunday evening.
  • At weekends, feeling of emptiness and inability to relax and enjoy.
  • feeling of loneliness
  • Tunnel thinking - the feeling that there is no way out, only this work is the only one, others seem impossible.
  • Physical symptoms: trouble sleeping, tiredness in the morning, unwillingness to move actively, overeating, headache, weakness, feeling sick.

Some people have a predisposition to mental problems, and under the circumstances, these disorders manifest themselves.

These conditions can be:

- constant work at risk, fear that the client may lose money due to an error

- very slow pace of work, boredom at work it turns out to do the job well and fatigue accumulates

- short-term overloads, then emptiness, lack of tasks, bench.

- conflict environment, colleagues

- pressure from above, manipulation, toxicity, hypocrisy

- frequent job changes.

Learn more