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Dealing With Depression in the Workplace

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 28 Jan 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Work Depression Coping Employer Gp

It can be difficult to know the best way to handle depression in the workplace. Although we know that employers should be kind and caring, with only our best interests at heart, it’s perhaps fair to say that is not always the case.

However, it’s important to be realistic and understand the practicalities surrounding depression in the workplace. It is worth noting that at least one in ten of us will suffer from depression at some point in our working lives, so there is no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed.

There is, on the other hand, a reason to be a little cautious about how we deal with depression in the workplace, because there is no doubt that it is not a positive attribute to add to your personnel files. If you work for a large company or have a particularly effective HR department, there may be a system in place to support you through your depression, but unless you are aware of this, you may not choose to speak to your employers.

Seek Help

With around 70% of sufferers of depression not seeking any help or support, perhaps it is important to mention that there is a great deal of help available through your GP. Your doctor should be your first port of call as they will be able to offer coping strategies to deal with your daily routine, as well as medication and/or counselling if required.

If you are finding work particularly hard to deal with, you could perhaps request a doctor’s note so that you can be signed off for a period of time, usually one or two weeks at a time. However, you will need to decide how necessary this is as it will go on your personnel file at work. Even the most supportive employer can use the information in your files when the going gets tough.

Don’t Jeopardise Your Job

So, what can you do when you’re suffering from depression and do not want to jeopardise your employment? This is a really difficult situation because you will benefit from some time off and communications with your GP, but you also don’t want to say too much to your employers unless you really have to.

Although it may sound frustrating, you could start by booking some time off as a holiday. Use the time to think about how you feel, how your job is making you feel and whether or not your job is contributing to your depression. Of course, depression does not always have a cause, certainly not one that you can identify, but it may be that certain aspects of your life are having a negative impact.

If you have been able to identify certain triggers or situations that are not helping, you could speak to your employers about reducing these, or take steps to apply for a new job if you decide that your current role is having too much of an impact on your health. Remember that you may be happier earning less money if you are currently in a highly stressful job.

Coping Strategies

If you decide that, at least for the time being, you want to stay in your current job and not inform your employers of your depression, you will need to develop coping strategies.

Examples that can often help include ensuring you arrive on time each day, well prepared, to avoid that stressful feeling first thing. You can also make sure you have a balanced diet and regular exercise – walking to work, or at least getting off the bus a stop earlier can help get in the right frame of mind. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed at work, even five minutes in a quiet place on your own (the toilets are often the only place!) can help you gather your thoughts before going back into the office environment.

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I have been with a company for 20 years.Over the years I have had various jobs.Only until my favourite job got redundant, I had to find alternative deployment.I have struggled with trying to find the best suitable and enjoyable job due to my disability.I have a hearing disability and an understanding difficulty.I went off sick 5 years ago with despression and anxiety due to struggle to find a job.I have been in Thai current role for 5 years and have tried to apply for other roles when they come vacant but never been successful.With the job Icurrently doing, my anxiety has been kicking in on and off and at some point I take it home and struggle to sleep. I then asked if I can have a job swap which I started training but only recently i made a lot of mistakes and knew something was wrong because they were talking about but not at me directly.That day, I was so emotional and had to get out of there so decide to take half day.I explain to my partner what had happened and the state I was in, he got me an appointment at the doctors.I went to the doctors and explained the situation hoping they would just change my medication.They did changed my medication but signed me off for 4 weeks which i didn’t want.They said I was in no fit state to work.I am now worried that I have to go in and face them One day or whether the company will move me into a different role where it is less stressful.I don’t do sick because I am scared I would get the sack.This is my 4th time being off sick in 20 years.I am not the brightest person but I am always a hard worker and never let anything affect my performance.Any help or advice would be really appreciated.Can i just go back to work and not hand my sick certificate in?
Bella - 28-Jan-18 @ 8:23 AM
I'm suffering with work related stress and depression and anxiety and I've started having agoraphobic symptoms and I've been signed off work by the doctor and they have put me on stronger meds but the company I work for keep sending me letters to go in and have a meeting with them but it's hard for me to at moment but I did go in to see the occupational health and I had my girlfriend with me who works for agency in same company but occupational health refused her in with me but I said I would like her to be there because I'm struggling on my own and oc health turned to me and said what are you not a big boy can't you talk for yourself then told me to leave because I was being hostile asking for my girlfriend to stay I've been off work for 6 and half weeks and they have sent me for letters saying I have to go to work for meetings and if I can't I have to put it in writing otherwise it's a disaplinary which is getting me down all the time they also wanted to do a well fare check on me but I had to go to work for that had sit infront of a area manager and member of hr taking notes but when I asked if they could come to my house because I'm struggling to be amongst alot of people she turned around and said well you are fine driving your car and that no company comes out to you and that they won't do that and if I don't turn up and not tell them in writing that I'm not going then it's another disaplinary so where do I stand with this
Bigboy - 29-Dec-17 @ 4:56 AM
George - Your Question:
I took a self certificate sick note in to my employer cos I'm depressed and have anxiety issues can thy give me a three month warning disaplin.

Our Response:
Your employer could start formal disciplinary action against you if they have concerns about your work, conduct or absence, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 30-Nov-17 @ 3:28 PM
I took a self certificate sick note in to my employer cos I'm depressed and have anxiety issues can thy give me a three month warning disaplin.
George - 30-Nov-17 @ 1:17 PM
Having recently experienced mental health issues, I appreciate each case is different, plus attendance/sickness policies might be also. I would encourage anyone who has access to an employers Occ Health service asked to be referred immediately. I am not a legal or HR person but a look at the Human Rights 1998 under Disability section, might be helpful. This guide only covers the Human Rights Act from the point of view of a person with a mental health problem.
Amber - 29-May-17 @ 2:09 PM
@Bear14 - can't you change your job? :( It might change your life.
Cass11 - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:02 AM
Hi i have been trying to cope with depression for the last 3 years after my dad died and then was told i cant have children. I think that my work has something to do with my depression too as we are treated as robots and not humans my absent record is terrible as my depression flares up bad and i cannot go in. I want reduced hours but i dont think depression is a good reason?
Bear14 - 18-Apr-17 @ 5:09 PM
keefey - Your Question:
I am on a stage 1 in work of absence and on a final warning for a different matter iv bin moved around on to different jobs alot and since I got my final warning iv felt like there watching me to make some mistake to get rid of me my supervisor dosnt like me and has bin the person going out of there way to come down on me since he became my supervisor 2 years ago iv bin there 6 years and was never in any trouble and liked going to work before I came across this man now all it seems like im getting in trouble for petty things he over looks other people but comes down on me for the slightest thing iv suffered with depression and anxiety in the past I tried to kill my self and slit my wrist over a split with my ex partner now I feel it again and very depressed and don't want to face anyone especially go to work im going to take time of with depression but im worried they are going to sack me if I do its a well paid job and don't want to loose it wot should I do? can I be sacked if I have a doctor's note for depression and anxiety?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. The gov.uk site here can tell you what you can be dismissed for. You can be dismissed despite having a doctors note.
WorkingRights - 15-Aug-16 @ 11:54 AM
I am on a stage 1 in work of absence and on a final warning for a different matter iv bin moved around on to different jobs alot and since I got my final warning iv felt like there watching me to make some mistake to get rid of me my supervisor dosnt like me and has bin the person going out of there way to come down on me since he became my supervisor 2 years ago iv bin there 6 years and was never in any trouble and liked going to work before I came across this man now all it seems like im getting in trouble for petty things he over looks other people but comes down on me for the slightest thing iv suffered with depression and anxiety in the past I tried to kill my self and slit my wrist over a split with my ex partner now I feel it again and very depressed and don't want to face anyone especially go to work im going to take time of with depression but im worried they are going to sack me if I do its a well paid job and don't want to loose it wot should I do? can I be sacked if I have a doctor's note for depression and anxiety?
keefey - 14-Aug-16 @ 12:24 PM
Sara - Your Question:
I am suffering from depression. With 2 kids as a single parent. I don't want to go for work. Want to call long sick. Can I call at least 12 wk sick bcoz of depression.any help plz.

Our Response:
If you are likely to be off sick for more than seven days in a row you have to supply your employer with a sick note which you would have to obtain from your GP. I would also read the terms and conditions of your contract which will lay out your company's sickness policy. Please also see the gov.uk link here which will also tell you more.
WorkingRights - 7-Jun-16 @ 10:18 AM
I am suffering from depression. With 2 kids as a single parent.I don't want to go for work.Want to call long sick. Can I call at least 12 wk sick bcoz of depression .any help plz.
Sara - 6-Jun-16 @ 9:07 AM
I am off work again (3rd time) with depression. I hate this feeling. My first time was through a work colleague. I eventually went back to work after a really hard time, the person in HR at the time had more sympathy for the guy who bullied me. When I returned to work in a different position away from him but not much changed. After a while back at work I ended of work again through a separate incident, I was going through shell again as was my wife. When I spoke with a different guy in HR he was fair and did say that if the guy that bullied me in the first instance hadn't left he would certainly been sacked also the HR guy left as well. I am now off work again as my depression has came back strongly, this time I was at the stage where I couldn't Go out the door to work. I have had depression now for close on seven years, all due to that first incident, I don't know if I can return to my job but I need an income to survive. This time I have been taken from one job then put into another which involved working away which I manage to just about cope with, then I got returned to work at my home depot which is not the greatest of working environments. I just feel I have been from pillar to post since my first phase of depression.
Don - 25-Aug-14 @ 10:48 PM
hi i have been off work with stress for 6 weeks, this is due to a person that i work with. i recently had to go into work for a imformal meeting with hr and my team leader,to see if they could help me anyway, i told them about my trouble with this person my team leader was already aware of the difficulty i was having with her,but he just used to try and brush it under the carpet instead of dealing with it. i explained that i could no longer work with her and requested a transfer, they said that they would have to investigate the matter,they phoned me up to tell me that they would now be monitoring her and that they could offer me a job in another deptment this is not really suitable for me as i would have to change my hours of work, the department they want to put me is horrible it is dark closed in as no windows they are always on at you to get your target they are under extreme pressure i know i will not like it,i have also been suffering with panck attacks can they make me take the job or can i refuse it.
jewels - 16-Aug-13 @ 2:22 PM
I have worked for a local council for 7 years with no time off, i was promoted to supervisor 5 years ago. and started on a diffrent contract of 4 on 4 off 2 year ago. however i was asked if i would move to another depot 2 months later to assist with staff sickness. I then recevied a short term 6 month temp contract which stated i would return to my previous supervisor post. during this period my brother who also worked in another depot passed away. (wee were very very close). shortly after this i was asked again if i would assisst with sickness to cover a manager which lasted a year, then with 1 day's notice I was moved to another location my brothers old depot all this has brought about serious stress and depression. throughout this whole time another employee made serious allogations against me which including a court case all of the alogations were found to be mallicious and untrue. I eventually wrote a letter to management asking what was happening with this employee as I come across him daily., I asked for mediation as i wanted to know why he was doing this to me. but that was 3 months ago still nothing. then 2 weeks ago i came out the office and this employee was standing smoking, with no PPE on, in a veh movement area.I asked him to put out the smoke and get properly dressed. only to have the ciggy thrown at my feet and sneered at with the remark could you not have died with your brother. I reported the incident to management who shrugged his shoulders. I had to end up going home due to severe headaches and blurred vision. I was off work for 2 days but i sent in aletter requesting i be moved back to my own position and location, management sent me to employment doctor who said i need time away from work and moved back to my previous location. my manager has told me no as i am needed in that depot. my doctor has also put me on medication and given me a note for 6 weeks but i have not used this as I dont want to blacken my record as i have worked hard to get here. but can HR and my manager make me stay at this depot it is a completly diffrent working pattern from my 4 on 4 off and they have never renewed my initial 6 month tempory contract? . now 18mths out of date.
Stu - 4-Aug-13 @ 8:54 PM
My Grandson was glassed in the eye by a work colleague but not in the work place, this has caused depression etc his employer expects him to work with this person this has caused great trauma and my G'son feels this is un acceptable especially as the case will be gong to Court what are his rights in this matter please !
Lefty - 10-Apr-13 @ 4:35 PM
i have had depression for ten years and recently was "informally " told off for something at work which was not proven to be me. I reacted badly to this and became very distressed and asked to go home ill...i was refused. now i have been taken down the disciplinary route, and 6 months later have recieved a verbal warning as an outcome. I feel this is wholly unfair as I was not dealt with sensitivly in the first place and managements insensitivity has caused me to retreat into my depression. I now worry about my future, my sickness levels and opinions of me.. Oh...I work for the NHS! How's that for caring?
sharron - 21-Oct-12 @ 4:10 PM
I have been suffering at work for some time now due to my disability. I sought help from my employer only to find that they are using this as a tool to try and force me out of my job. I am now facing a daily barrage of critisms and fault-finding. This has led me into a spiral of depression. Now like Johny I am in the position of needing to take time off but facing disciplinary action for sick leave if I do. Yet when I force myself to come in I make mistakes. This is just a no win situation!
Jayde - 8-Oct-12 @ 12:19 PM
I was suspended from work for two years on full pay because of grievances raised against me by the people who were bullying me. I attended a meeting to discuss my suspension and was informed verbally that I could restart work when I was next on shift. I have recieved no formal letter informing me that my suspension is lifted. What is my status?
Cass - 17-Nov-11 @ 3:40 PM
Do you have any articles about bullying and harassment in the work place? I have been off work for nearly two and a half years with stress and depression because of bullying and harassment both by other employees and members of management.
cass - 17-Nov-11 @ 3:31 PM
I have been suffering bouts of depression for years, and have lived in Canada and now England. Canadian Health professionals are far more understanding and appreciative of the problems caused by depression. Here I am being penalised for it because of absences from work. I am currently under disciplinary action by my employer and this adds to my stress. Roll on retirement, if I make it that far.
Bobby - 18-Apr-11 @ 10:50 AM
I have recently been diagnosed with depression after 6 months of suffering. I have informed my employer of my circumstances. I have found that, in the last month or so, I am getting pressure from my employers to get better or they will start discipplinary action. Is there anything that I can do to secure my job? I know this pressure will ultimately make me feel worse.
Johnny - 16-Mar-11 @ 8:27 PM
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