How the Hell Do You Keep a Job With Depression?

How the Hell Do You Keep a Job With Depression?

Depression is no joke. It can be predictable or it can come out of nowhere. And when it hits you, the last thing you want to do is go to work. The hardest part for most isn’t the sadness that comes with depression; it’s the apathy. Having no enthusiasm for things you normally find interesting can make work feel tedious, even insurmountable. When these feelings set in, your mind splits in two: “Who cares if I lose my job?” and “I am failing at this and I cannot afford to be fired.” That’s a scary place to be, and the solution isn’t a walk in the park. In this blog post, we’ll take you through how to keep a job with depression.

Signs of Depression at Work

Depression can take many forms, so recognizing it early will help you get the support you need. Knowing your symptoms can also help you treat them directly. Keeping a job with depression is hard, but understanding what you’re feeling can go a long way toward bringing you back into yourself.

Some common signs that someone is dealing with depression, especially at work, include:

  • Persistently low mood
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • A decline in work performance and productivity
  • Difficulty focusing on work tasks
  • Problems with thinking and problem-solving
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor frustration tolerance
  • Making excessive mistakes at work
  • Irritability
  • Impaired decision-making capacity
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Feelings of guilt and shame
  • Increased complaints about headaches, back pain, or stomach discomfort
  • Tears or crying fits at work for no apparent reason

How to Keep a Job with Depression

You’ve probably been told that eating well, exercising, and getting sunlight can help your depression symptoms a million times. And while that might be great advice when you have the energy to do those things, it seems like no one ever addresses how to actually get through the day. 

So, you managed to make it to work, log onto your computer, and convince your coworkers that everything is fine. But what now?

Make a list

One of the hardest parts of depression at work is the fog that sets in. Apathy is a common symptom of depression that leaves you feeling uninterested and unmotivated. That disinterest can manifest in the form of brain fog. It’s difficult to remember what there is to do when you don’t care to do it.

Making a list of the tasks that need to get done fulfills two purposes: it means you don’t have to put extra energy into remembering everything, and it also acts as an anchor. When you feel like you’re floating away, you can come back to the list. You can also see how much you’ve actually completed as you cross things off, which might trigger a tiny bit of motivation to come back.

Break up tasks

If something feels particularly overwhelming, break it into smaller tasks first. Say you have an unread email waiting in your inbox from your boss, and you know you’ll need to reply to whatever it is, but just seeing the email causes you to freeze because it feels like too much.

Instead of adding “reply to Barbara’s email” to your list, break it up like this:

  • Open Barbara’s email
  • Read it
  • Read it again
  • Draft a response
  • Proofread the response
  • Send the response

Some people may find more steps to be more overwhelming, and if that’s the case for you, try writing each step out just before you do it. So instead of replying to her email, you just have to open it, no more. After that, all you have to do is read it, and so on. Starting the task is the hardest part, and once you start, it is a lot easier to find some momentum.

Take more breaks

If you spend all day working when you have depression, you might find you run out of energy quickly and feel burnt out by the time you finish the day. When you’re physically sick, rest is a given, but for some reason when we’re not feeling well mentally, we tend to try to push through it, even though rest to recover is still needed.

Something like a Pomodoro timer, where you work for 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes, can help you get into autopilot mode while still giving you some extra time to rest. You might even find that you get more work done when you break your day up into bite-sized blocks.

Talking to your boss can help you keep your job with depression

Depression might cause you to distance yourself from coworkers, forget about important meetings and deadlines, or even skip out on going to work altogether. If the people around you don’t know what’s going on, they can’t help you. It makes sense to be uncomfortable talking about it in the workplace, but remember that everyone struggles, and you are allowed to struggle too. Here are some ways to go about bringing your mental health up at work:

Get Informed

Learn about treatment options and workplace mental health policies before talking to your boss. Find out how depression affects job performance, productivity, and relationships. This will help you understand your condition, job ramifications, and rights. It will also help you discuss possible issues with your supervisor and coworkers and provide solutions.

Schedule a Meeting with Your Boss

Ask for a meeting with your supervisor in private so you feel comfortable and can confidently address your concerns. Ask about accommodations such as reduced workload, remote work, or flexible working hours. Also, highlight your commitment and willingness to seek treatment.

Be Open

When discussing your depression at work, try to be honest and communicate openly, even if this seems uncomfortable at first. Consider discussing your mental health with trustworthy colleagues so they understand how you feel. Also, consider informing those whose jobs may be impacted by your condition. However, only reveal as much personal information as you are comfortable with.

If you talk openly about mental illness at work, this might help you build an important support system among your coworkers.

Why raising mental health awareness at work is important

Workplace support can take some of the stress of balancing work and life away, which might immediately decrease your feelings of depression. It can help you feel like you are not alone, and that matters. Addressing your mental health can raise awareness and help you get some much-needed assistance without feeling stigmatized. Raising awareness about mental health at the office can also encourage other employees to get support for their concerns.

If you’re struggling with depression and having trouble balancing work and life, we can help. At Modern Era Counseling, our licensed counselors will help guide you to a place of peace so that you can start to enjoy life again. Give us a call at (704) 800-4436 or shoot us an email to get started.

Close Menu