Depression is widespread across North American workplaces and occurs at an alarming rate. It can affect men and women at any age, economic or social status. In both Canada and the US, depression tops the list of health-related productivity costs at work. While many employers understand the huge financial and human costs of depression, the big challenge remains getting people to reach out for help.
A Perfect Storm
When you look at the many stressors employees currently face such as downsizings, economic insecurity and constantly having to “do more with less”, it’s not hard to imagine someone being under chronic stress that eventually develops into depression. In fact, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 in 20 workers experience depression. But due to the stigma of seeking help, it’s all too frequent that people will seek help only after years of delays. Everyone loses here. Productivity falls, sick days increase and the individual suffers.
Signs of Depression
We all feel a little down at times, which is simply life. But if the blue mood lasts for a few weeks, deepens and/or it starts interfering with everyday life, it may be a clinical depression.
Even though few people experience depression in exactly the same way, the following are common signs that a sufferer could exhibit:
- Withdrawal from, or extreme dependence, on others
- Slowness of speech
- Chronic fatigue
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Decreased productivity
- Inability to concentrate
- Decline in dependability
- Unusual increase in errors at work
- Being prone to accidents
- Frequent tardiness, increased “sick” days
Seeking Help for Yourself or Someone You Know
If you think that you or a teammate may be dealing with depression the first step is the most important.
If you think a teammate is experiencing depression, you should continue to show them respect. Help make the person aware of their value at work and to the team. Be encouraging and offer genuine compliments every day.
Use the trust between you to support them to seek help and/or continued treatment. Encourage your teammate to speak with their health professional, an on-site health professional or employee assistance person. These people can then direct a person with depression towards appropriate treatment such as counseling, self-help groups or various other supports and specialists.
If after reading the above signs you think you might be going through depression, seek help. You will feel the better for it and one way or another, you have nothing to lose but perhaps the depression itself.
Treatments for depression, alone or in combination can be highly effective…but they will only work if the person with the dogged blues takes the first step.