It is normal and common to sometimes feel a little dread when heading into the office. After all, who wouldn’t want the weekends to last forever? However, with that being said, work should still be a place that promotes positive mental well-being overall – giving us purpose, motivation and a sense of fulfilment.
For some, work can be a source of heightened anxiety, stress, and worry. In such cases, individuals may feel an overwhelming feeling of dread that could be a sign of workplace depression. According to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), mental health issues are the third most frequent cause of absences from work.
First things first, is it just stress or workplace depression?
We have all experienced work-related stress. The unfortunate truth is that there are just some days where everything seems to go wrong, or you have what feels like a never-ending list of tasks to complete and you feel like pulling your hair out in frustration. This is usually just typical stress that is associated with work.
On the flip side, you may be dealing with depressive symptoms at work if melancholy, worry, lack of motivation, trouble concentrating, uncontrollable emotional breakdowns, and nonchalance are regular occurrences in your workday. There is often some overlap between how you feel at work and how you feel outside of work, and the symptoms of workplace depression might resemble general depressive symptoms – which include social withdrawal, detachment or disinterest, irritability, anger, feeling tired for most of the day and more.
While some individuals can do better at work while under a lot of strain, it inhibits others’ ability to function at their best when they are under pressure. People who worry about being laid off may find it difficult to focus, finish tasks to the best of their ability and on time and come up with original and creative ideas because prolonged stress affects our cognitive functions. These anxieties could also make it harder for you to control your emotions, which might make it harder to get along with your co-workers.
Causes of workplace depression
Your workplace may contribute to the development of depression or make an existing depression that you currently have worse. It is not either/or since both scenarios are possible, but rather a very individual experience.
Some common causes of factors or situations that could lead to an individual developing workplace depression include but are not limited to:
- Being a victim of workplace gossip, bullying or being ostracised by colleagues.
- Limited social support in the workplace which could result in an individual feeling alienated and isolated.
- Dismissive managers who do not care for their staff’s well-being.
- Biasness or unfairness at work (for example, not being rewarded for your efforts, unfair expectations, or excessive workload).
- Personal issues such as problems with spouse, partner, children, in-laws affecting concentration at work.
- Past traumas being triggered, giving rise to feelings of incompetence, worthlessness, hopelessness and more.
- Worry over job security due to impending recession.
Even if you formerly enjoyed your work, you would eventually become disengaged and exhausted in a toxic or unpleasant work atmosphere. Some people may avoid their colleagues, dislike going to work, give up on initiatives, or stop doing their best. After a long day, individuals with workplace depression may take that chronic stress home with them and will find it difficult to be emotionally or physically present for their loved ones.
How to deal with workplace depression
It might be difficult to control the symptoms of work depression and to understand how to manage it. When you experience negative thoughts, apathy, or other depressive symptoms at work, there are some easy things you may do that can help:
- Step outside and get some fresh air. It has been shown that spending time in nature might assist with mental health issues including depression and anxiety. So, if you can, step outside your office for 5 to 10 minutes to take a breather, or maybe even take a quick stroll in the park on your lunch break.
- To refocus and recentre your thoughts, practise mindfulness meditation. Try changing your mentality, even for a short period of time when you’re having a bad day at work. Focus on your goals and the reasons you have a job throughout such time. Try to find something to be thankful for in your workplace – it could even be something as small as being grateful for an extensive pantry or lovely colleagues.
- Keep a journal at your desk and spend some time writing down your thoughts whenever you start to feel overwhelmed with negative emotions.
- Talk to someone. If you have a colleague that you can hit it off with, perhaps confiding in them about your struggles might do wonders for your mental health. Who knows, he or she might be feeling the same way and you could be each other’s support system. Otherwise, it can be incredibly helpful to confide in your family and friends – they can offer you the support, love, and care that you need.
Seeking professional help
If you feel like your depression at work is affecting you to the point where you are constantly looking for any excuse to quit your job, you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or your depression and anxiety are so heightened that it begins to affect other areas of your life, it could be worth seeking professional help from a Singapore certified counsellor.
Here at Emotional Wellness, we offer professional career and depression counselling in Singapore, among other services to help you regain emotional control. We adopt a range of integrative counselling and psychotherapy techniques such as schema therapy, EMDR therapy, gestalt therapy and more to free you from emotional distress. Our psychotherapist has more than 15 years of experience providing professional counselling in Singapore, so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands.
Contact us today for more information and let us help you in dealing with workplace depression.