Cubicle Blues – Dealing with Depression in the Workplace

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If find yourself struggling with depression at work, you are certainly not alone. According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA), over a third of Americans repeatedly experience stress on the job. So what should you do if your cubicle is starting to turn a shade of blue? Here are five points to consider:

1. Awareness of the problem is key. It is certainly normal to feel a bit down every now and then. But when the downs keep coming at you in unmanageable waves then it deserves attention. Work-related stress and depression can significantly hinder job performance and satisfaction so you want to both identify what it is that you are feeling as well as what is triggering it. Some signs to look for include: frustration, apathy, helplessness, impatience, cynicism, a significant decline in one’s professional self-esteem and confidence, feeling overwhelmed, and having difficulty experiencing pleasure.

2. Should you tell.. or should you not? Deciding whether or not to tell your employer about your depression is a delicate issue that should be weighed carefully. One one hand, one way to combat depression is to gain support and understanding from those around you. If your co-workers are aware of your depression they may be able to offer assistance or at least be sensitive to your situation. Moreover, if you are struggling to maintain your level of performance, you may owe it to your employer to make your situation known. Finally, it takes off the burden of having to hide what you are going through from others.

On the other hand, where you believe that you will not receive support, and even more that your job may be at risk, then it may be better to keep it a secret. Telling your employer under these conditions may only increase your feelings of stress and depression.

3. Little changes can go a long way. Even if life is looking pretty gloomy, you may be surprised by what a few easy alterations can do to your outlook. Can you change the way your work space looks by adding pictures of loved ones, a plant, or another pleasant decoration? Can you change the way work gets done, by for example, breaking your job down into small, manageable tasks? Is your desk clean and organized? If it isn’t, then just making some order can help you to feel less overwhelmed.

4. Build a support system. One of the most important factors in successfully handling workplace depression is the network of people you choose to surround yourself with. This network can include close friends, family, mentors, a life coach, and at times a qualified professional, such as a psychologist. Not only can these people offer physical assistance and clarity, but they can be a source of inspiration, emotional support, and a place from which you can draw the strength to keeping going.

5. Learn how to relax. Though this may sound simple enough, often it is a lot easier said than done- especially when you are experiencing significant levels of stress or depression. There are simple techniques that you can do, however, to help yourself relax even under difficult conditions. You could take a series of deep breaths, do a regimen of stretches, press on pressure points located on the face, hands, and torso. You could also use your break time to go for a walk. The positive effects of exercise on one’s mood has been well-documented.

In short, if you are struggling with depression at work, there is hope. With the right attitude and support system you stand a good chance of navigating even the fiercest of waves.


This guest post is by Gary Barzel, the manager of business development for Fastupfront. Fastupfront offers working capital programs and alternative loans for businesses in need of fast, unsecured financing.

Photo by Gerald Gabernig

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