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Depression at Work: Reasons and Ways to Deal with it

depression at work

Are you someone who struggles with boredom, anxiety, or lack of focus at work? Loss of concentration, exhaustion, and feeling unproductive in addition to the above symptoms might be some of the indications that you are feeling depressed at work. But, you know what? This is not uncommon. World Health Organization (WHO) states that currently, more than half of the world's population works, and 15% of working-age persons have a mental illness. 

Depression is a common mental health illness that impacts more than 17 million adults in America every year. But if left untreated it can lead to severe depression which not only impact your personal life but also society as a whole. Are you puzzled as to how? Each year, the world economy suffers a US $1 trillion loss due to depression and anxiety, mainly due to lost productivity.

Read this article to know more about what is depression, its triggers, and how to deal with depression at work. Also, you will find out what actions you have to take and how depression therapy helps you to start feeling better.

What is Work Depression?

Mental health is important in all aspects of our life including the workplace. Although, most of the time your job may not be the direct reason for your depression but it can worsen the symptoms of depression if you are already experiencing the symptoms. The potential cause of depression at the workplace depends upon the level of stress and the support you get at the workplace.

According to World Health Organization, work environments which include the following factors can be harmful to your mental health at the workplace. They are

  • Indiscrimination
  • Inequality
  • Job insecurity
  • Poor management
  • Excessive workloads.

Depression is a common mental health condition with a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can affect anybody and everyone. When you think you are experiencing depression at work, a number of work and non-work-related factors may be at play. It is always crucial to look for the signs of depression as finding out early may help you to take the quick, prompt, and necessary action which will eventually speed up the process of your recovery.

Before knowing the symptoms of depression and how to deal with it we will make a quick view of how stress vs depression at work differ from each other.

Difference between work stress and work depression

Stress at work is not uncommon, but feeling depressed is a crucial thing to take care of. Sometimes you may wonder why I feel sad for no reason. Knowing the difference between work stress and work depression helps you to find the solution to this doubt and how to deal with depression at work.

Work Stress

  • You will occasionally feel anxious and have a sense of irritability,
  • Headaches and muscle tensions,
  • Once the stressor passes, the intensity of stress will decrease.

Work Depression

  • Persistent anxiety or nervousness,
  • Loss of interest at work,
  • Lack of focus and not interest in the job,
  • Feeling sad most of the time and crying.

Work stress can be managed with positive changes in the workplace, but depression can affect both your mind and body. That is why you should know how to find a therapist in the process of healing.

Remote Work and its Impact on Depression

Working remotely may look convenient for some time, but it does also have some drawbacks. While working remotely you should maintain a correct line between your professional and personal life. If not, that line will fade out slowly and impacts dramatically on your daily routine.

You should have a structured routine or else you might feel a lack of interest, which affects your emotions and thoughts.

The major reason for depression at remote work is increased screen time. You have to rely on online meetings, chats, or phone calls to connect with your friends and colleagues, which results in increased screen time. Also, there is a chance you may feel lonely as there is no social atmosphere in work from home setup.  This loss of social connection prevents you from understanding what is depression and how to deal with it.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Due to balancing more duties, women who work from home have a higher risk of developing depression than males”.

Feeling depressed at work is not just confined to remote work. Read on to know what might be several reasons and factors that are responsible for your depression at work.

Why you might be feeling depressed at work?

There can be a number of reasons why you are feeling depressed at work. When analyzing the origins or triggers of the symptoms of depression at work, several similar elements seem to emerge even though no two people or circumstances are the same.

The following situations may be the reason for depression at work 


  • Feeling helpless in work-related problems
  • Fear of job insecurity,
  • working in an unfriendly or toxic environment,
  • Being overworked or underpaid, 
  • Facing harassment or discrimination at work,
  • Working in an environment that doesn't align with your personal ideals,
  • Working on projects that don't have a scope in your career advancements,
  • Unsafe and poor working conditions,
  • Lack of work-life balance,
  • Nepotism,
  • Lack of appreciation,
  • Having colleagues with different perspectives or philosophies.

Sometimes you may also develop depression at work if you are a person who thinks your work doesn’t contribute anything to society. The signs of depression in women arise because of mom guilt as she thinks she cannot take care of the child properly.

Now, let’s see what are the common symptoms of depression at work.

Symptoms indicate that you are depressed at the workplace

Depression at work is not just confined to a specific individual.  According to research, it can have a financially disastrous effect on an organization. World Health Organization (WHO) states that an estimated 12 billion working days are lost worldwide each year due to depression and anxiety, costing US$ 1 trillion in lost productivity annually.

Although symptoms of general depression and depression at work look similar, some symptoms appear to be more specific to the workplace environment. If you are one among the working population who is experiencing this depression it will affect your functionality both at work and at home.

Following are some of the common symptoms of depression at work:


  • Increased anxiety especially if you are feeling difficult or stressful situations,
  • Worrying about work all time,
  • Overall dissatisfaction and discomfort with your job,
  • Lack of interest at work, particularly those that used to interest and satisfy you,
  • Emotions of powerlessness, worthlessness, and hopelessness,
  • Persistent feelings of sadness,
  • Lack of concentration,
  • Lack of motivation to do things,
  • Inability to remember the tasks assigned,
  • Not willing to stay updated or learn new things,
  • Loss of appetite, in some case, it would be reversed,
  • Increased or decreased weight gain,
  • Frequent irritation, anger, frustration,
  • Crying or feeling sad for no reasons,
  • Insomnia or too much sleeping,
  • Substance abuse,
  • Poor decision making,
  • Physical health deterioration. 

These are the kind of symptoms you can mask from others. But some of the signs of depression are more likely to be noticed by your colleagues.

  • Arriving late to the office or going early,
  • Maintaining poor self-hygiene,
  • Taking so many leaves,
  • Not attending official meetings properly,
  • Appearing to be tired most of the time,
  • Isolating yourself from others,
  • Getting angry or frustrated even during casual conversations,
  • Lack of confidence to take up the work.

Along with this, missing deadlines, and sudden changes in quality of work can also be a sign of depression at work. We spend a significant time of our lives at work, and for some people, job and depression are closely related. 

How to deal with depression at work?

Irrespective of your working environment, managing depression symptoms is quite challenging. But, you can take some relevant steps and actions to lessen the symptoms of your depression and heal it.


Treat work depression with counseling

Depression counseling focuses more on your current thoughts, feelings, and actions and how they are impacting your life right now. In counseling, the therapist will use talk therapy to assist you in understanding and resolving the problems that are negatively affecting your life.  

While taking treatment for depression your therapist will listen, give you feedback, and help you come up with coping mechanisms. Additionally, they will check your progress and modify the sessions of counseling according to your needs. You'll be given homework in addition to what you learned in counseling sessions. This is frequently done for tracking emotions and moods.

Say “yes” to therapy

Depression is a mental health problem that probably won't disappear on its own. That’s why learning how to cure depression and finding the right therapist with whom you can communicate, relate and feel comfortable is crucial. 

World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 75% of individuals in low- and middle-income nations do not receive therapy although effective treatments are available. This can be overcome by breaking the social stigma about mental disorders and increasing awareness about the therapy techniques available, and why the mindful approach to mental health is crucial.

Let's see some of the therapy methods to treat depression due to work.

Therapy methods to treat depression at work


The type of therapy you are going to choose depends on a number of factors. As no single strategy or therapy works for everyone, it would be better to understand the types of treatment. Your preferences and the intensity of your symptoms, among other things, may influence the sort of treatment you select. For this, first you have to know how to find the best depression therapist and the therapy techniques they are familiar with. To help you choose the sort of therapy that could be best for you, have a look at some of the following often-used forms of therapy for depression.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

According to a report in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Dialectical Behavior Therapy for depression is found to be effective in lessening the symptoms of depression. DBT helps to reduce your depression at work with its comprehensive approach.

DBT is an acceptance-based therapy that is effective in treating emotional and behavioral challenges including depression at work.

Benefits of DBT for Depression at Work

Teach new life skills: It helps to increase your interpersonal skills, tolerates emotional distress, and develops mindfulness which is essential to handle your depression at work.

Makes you feel motivated: By lessening unhealthy thoughts, learning new life skills and  motivation from your therapist will lead you towards a depression-free life and work.

Interpersonal Therapy

With the help of interpersonal therapy, you will learn how to develop social skills and accept unwanted incidents in life which helps in lessening the symptoms of depression and understanding the causes for depression. This therapy makes you realize the importance of mental health in the workplace and also in your daily lives.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Interpersonal therapy significantly influences overall work performance, employees’ confidence to return to work, insomnia, and depression symptoms.

Benefits of IPT for Depression at Work

Teaches strategies: Work-related Interpersonal therapy identifies and teaches the coping strategies for work-related stress, teaches mindfulness, and helps to practice social communication skills.

Address social and inter-personal issues: IPT addresses social and inter-personal issues at work like identifying work-related issues, interpersonal conflicts, less social support, burnout, etc., by applying strategies like finding out work-related stress through individual stress, role-play exercise, etc.,

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps to change unwanted behavioral patterns and reduce the symptoms of mental health illness which also makes it an effective morning depression treatment. It is achieved by identifying and altering the negative thought patterns about the self and the world.

In every session of CBT, you come to know how your thought process is affecting your happiness and your therapist might give you homework to keep a log of your feelings and thoughts. 

Benefits of CBT for Depression at Work

Increases confidence: By keeping a diary or log, you can able to identify negative thought patterns and isolate them. It helps you to replace them with more positive ones. This process of self-realization increases confidence at work.

Stronger workplace relationships: Isolating negative thought patterns helps in reducing anxiety and stress which eventually makes you happy and productive at the workplace. Your way of communication with your colleagues takes a positive turn and strengthens your relationships at work. 

Psychodynamic Therapy

It is a form of Psychotherapy that not only helps to understand what causes depression at work but also helps to treat various mental illnesses such as eating disorders, substance abuse, and many more.

Psychodynamic therapy mainly focuses on exploring unconscious thoughts and feelings. By doing so you can be aware of the thoughts which cause issues such as depression or stress.

Benefits of Psychodynamic Therapy for Depression at Work

Increased self-awareness and Resilience: Psychodynamic therapy helps in increasing self-awareness by making you understand your thought patterns and behaviors. This understanding helps you to make better decisions and face challenges in the future.

Improves Relationships: When you know the underlying causes for depression using psychodynamic therapy it will give you a positive insight into relationship dynamics and overall mental health both at life and at work.

Now, you know how to deal with depression at work with the help of therapy. Read on to find how mindfulness and practicing self-care help in lessening the symptoms of depression.

Practice Mindfulness

The National Institutes of Health(NIH) research suggests that mindfulness meditation in the workplace helps to improve employees' mental health, and performance. Engaging in mindfulness practices not only enhances your workplace functioning but also helps in overcoming chronic stress and burnout to a happier life.

You can practice mindful meditation either by sitting simply and focusing on your breath which is usually called traditional meditation. You can also practice it by focusing your attention while doing activities like walking or cleaning chores which is called activity meditation.

Practice self-care

Taking care of yourself can help you to manage your depression at work and helps to rejuvenate yourself. Walking, jogging, or engaging yourself in activities like arts, dance or yoga can help you to lessen the symptoms of depression.

Our experts help you learn the signs, symptoms, and treatments for depression.
Browse licensed therapists near you, or talk to us to find the one who meets your needs.

Final thoughts

Mental Health America (MHA) states that most of the employees experiencing depression are not seeking professional help as they fear that it would impact their job and also they worry about their confidentiality. If you experience any depression symptoms or any other mental health issues such as anxiety or stress, don't hesitate to take your first step towards healing. It can either be online or in person, seeking professional help through therapy help you to overcome depression at work and resume where you left off.

At LifeBulb’s Depression Therapy in Alexandria, we believe everyone deserves better mental health, and that's why we make reaching out to our therapist or counselor simple and quick anytime if you need assistance. You can connect with us either online or in-person and we help you to match with the right therapist based on your needs and goals. Book your therapy session whether it can be online therapy or in-person therapy, our therapist helps you to defeat depression at work and start your healing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are different therapy techniques are available to treat depression at work. However, seeking the help of a depression therapist is important to find out which therapy suits you based on your needs and goals. Following are some of the therapy techniques commonly used for depression treatment.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT)

  • Psychodynamic Therapy

  • Interpersonal Therapy

Your depression therapist conducts an assessment and makes recommendations about the course of treatments to help you in the coping process.

If you are dealing with depression at work, here are some tips to cope with the symptoms.

Understand your depression: It means finding out the factors causing depression. You have to know whether it is work-related or due to some other personal reasons.

Seek Assistance: Once you find out the cause for depression seek the help of a professional therapist as it helps you to lessen the symptoms.

Practice self-care: Some self-care routines like practicing yoga, meditation, or doing things that make you happy can help you to bring positive changes in life.

If you are feeling depressed at work, it will result in a lack of concentration on work, missing days of work, poor decision-making, and an inability to complete the assigned tasks. But, facing depression at work is common and it can be helped with depression therapy which will make you understand the causes of depression and overcome it.

Although there are several causes like emotional factors, family circumstances, and medical factors that drive depression, the workplace can also be one of the reasons for that. Long working hours, lack of motivation, lack of social support, less or no appreciation, job insecurity, harassment at the workplace, and discrimination are some of the reasons which cause depression at work. 


Working remotely is associated with a high risk of depression as there increases the conflict between personal life and professional life and affects the work-life balance.

If a person is attending depression therapy sessions, it is considered to be an outpatient treatment. In case if therapist recommends treatment in a rehabilitation facility in case of severe depression, depression therapy centers provide a safe environment to completely focus on their recovery.


You will get 24/7 support and assistance from medical health professionals, personalized treatment, and it offers different types of therapy techniques.

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