Keeping Depression From Being A Career Roadblock

Individual Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft 

People who suffer from depression confront a variety of challenges. One issue that rarely gets the attention it deserves is how depression affects a person’s career. Major depressive disorder (MDD) can make everyday tasks sometimes seem unbearably difficult. When those tasks are required as part of your job, a level of anxiety is added regarding simple job performance and career advancement.

The problem is described well in an article on, along with steps you can take to lessen the impact on your career. “The CDC estimates that 9.5% of the U.S. adult population will experience a depressive condition,” writes Nancy Lovering for Healthline. “For 27% of them, the impact on their home and work life can be significant.

“Depression isn’t a character flaw or something that’s your fault. Instead, it’s a condition that can result from several factors, such as:

  • “chemical differences in the brain
  • “genetics
  • “family history
  • “personality type
  • “environmental influences, such as stress or adverse childhood experiences.”

Side effects of depression as it relates to job performance can include:

  • “Reduced cognitive performance
  • “Absenteeism
  • “Social impairments
  • “Slower movements and speech
  • “Physical health concerns”

Fortunately, there are ways to cope with depression on the job. Here are some tips from Healthline.

Communicate: In a positive change in American society, the subject of depression is more and more openly discussed and better understood. That means that communicating with your employer and co-workers may be difficult (at least initially) but it is also likely to be met with a surprising degree of empathy. “When you’re feeling depressed,” Lovering writes, “you may have a tendency to separate yourself from others at work. Avoiding people at work can make it more difficult to get through your day. It’s OK to let a co-worker or colleague know how you’re feeling and that you may need additional support that day.”

Break up tasks: Although most people react to depression in their own unique way, there are also common denominators, including a tendency to be overwhelmed by large projects. A possible solution, Lovering says, is to “take a large task and break it into smaller pieces. You may find it easier to start smaller tasks. As you complete each one, you may experience a sense of accomplishment.”

Set boundaries: Stress may not be a cause of depression but it can make it worse. That’s why it may help to take steps to reduce the stress of your job in any way you can. “Asking for help, a deadline extension, or delegating tasks are examples of ways that you can manage stress,” Lovering suggests.

Personalize your space: If your employer allows you some flexibility with your work space, try making it more warm and inviting — according to your definition of warm and inviting. Lovering says, “Decorating your workspace may help ease MDD symptoms. Family photos, a plant, artwork, or motivational quotes are examples of decor items that can elevate your mood.”

Take a break: Taking a break from a situation that is causing is stress is almost always a good idea. When it comes to taking on the job, do whatever time allows, whether it’s deep breathing or a short meditation at your desk, taking a walk outside or calling a friend. The point is to give your mind a breather. Depression is serious but there are ways to cope — make a point of working on coping strategies and you may very well find your job performance can be first rate.