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Can Your Job Make You Depressed?


If you aren’t happy with your job, there’s a good chance that perspective will have an impact on your emotional state if you don’t make a change. You spend a good amount of your time working, which means you may spend a good amount of time in a negative emotional state.

Over time, this can lead to depression.

A variety of things can make you feel unhappy at work, including too much stress, a long commute, the people you work with, or your responsibilities.

Asking questions about the matter is the first step to improving your emotional state, so you’re on the right path. To help you seek the answers you need, we wanted to take a closer look at the topic today.

Let’s get started.

How Your Job Can Make You Depressed

Stress is one of the most common problems people face at work.

Deadlines, client complaints, overbearing bosses and the general anxiety of making the right choices can become overwhelming.

Or at least, we’d like to. In the US, legitimate vacation time is scarce and hard to come by – we get sick days, and a few days of paid vacation time, but researchers have found that that’s not nearly enough for the mind and body to actually unwind and fully relax from the stressors of our work life. For most of us, leaving for vacation will mean taking a break from the actual routine of going to work – but our minds remain preoccupied, stuck on the thoughts and worries of our desks, computers, cubicles and counters.

Avoiding the Burnout

Taking your time to leave work and unwind, however, isn’t something we can afford to do. We’re still in an economic recession, and most of us face the challenges we face on daily basis not out of passion, but necessity and survival. But that doesn’t mean we must slowly drive ourselves into a state of total burnout. We can’t avoid stress – but we can manage it, and workplace stress like any other form can be shackled, put under control and vented out like excess pressure.

Welcome to the varied world of stress management. Stress is a normal element of life – keeping ourselves busy is our natural state, and the human mind tends to decay into boredom and emotional dishevelment when we’re left to our own devices without purpose or meaning.

But stress, like anything, requires moderation. Managing stress is an individual task that requires equal measures of time management and self-care. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a work-from-home entrepreneur or a busy workaholic mother-of-two, whether you run your own business or have three jobs and college loans to pay off – without positive coping activities with which to fend off the dread of overworking yourself, you will most definitely crash and burn. I’m not going to go over every option you could have for stress management, but the general rule is this:

Adaptive (good) stress management involves incorporating activities into your daily life (not once a month), that are wholesome and do you good in every way. The less ideal maladaptive stress management involves activities that might make you happy in the short-term, but will eventually make you miserable.

In other words – treat yourself to fresh air, a book, exercise or a long hot bath/ice shower regularly. Binge watch your favorite shows, order a pizza and enjoy a night out sparingly. Your options may vary – we can’t all afford massages or a gym membership, but there are some things anyone can do, like dog walking or doing sit-ups at home.

The Difference Between Stress and Depression

The original theme of today’s entry was determining whether work can give you depression. We decided to address the general facts and challenges of workplace stress first, but there are cases where your job, your responsibilities, can get to you to such a degree that you begin to experience real symptoms of depression and anxiety.

It’s not so much just the job that matters here. While there are elevated risk careers wherein statistics of depressive episodes and cases of anxiety are higher – think extremely risky positions and highly competitive industries like the social help scene, health care, and entrepreneurship – depression and anxiety are issues that manifest not just because of work.

In this case, these highly stressful environments often trigger deeper issues, or they allow for a compounding of different factors to create your condition. It’s not unheard of that work alone can be the progenitor of mental and emotional struggles, but it’s important to consider all possible factors when diagnosed with a mental illness by a professional.

Cases of depression and anxiety develop for different reasons in different people, but there are commonalities in the way people can combat these problems, especially when it’s work that contributes heavily to these problems. We talked about stress management, and learning how properly to manage your emotional life and give yourself the time needed to continue working and earning and living, without crumbling into a disillusioned mess.

With depression, stress management alone might not be enough. A depression or anxiety disorder develops when you’ve qualified for the official definition of these disorders as per the DSM-IV. Feelings of hopelessness, a negative mood, loss of passion, characterized by a lack of motivation and nagging negative thinking, often unprovoked – if these symptoms consistently last longer than two weeks, this is often a depression. Battling against that is best done with others.

Unraveling Work-Related Depression

In careers and industries where failure is common, and downs are seen more often than ups, it’s no wonder that the constant stream of negativity can bring someone down. Learning to be passionate about living can seem tough in these cases. But to make matters worse, it’s often these highly competitive industries that are prone not only to depression but higher rates of suicide as people fail to seek help.

It’s incredibly important that we stop seeing mental illness as a weakness. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s not something we should feel ashamed about either. No one scoffs and laughs at the man in the hospital bed with two broken legs from a completely random car accident – that man isn’t weak, he’s injured. And with time, his legs will inevitably mend.

In much the same way, a depression happens. The only responsibility you have is to treat it. You can avoid certain risk factors – just like you can avoid roads – but most of us take the chance of stress when we go into a competitive industry because the rewards outweigh the risk.

Once we begin to make it acceptable to speak out about mental health problems in high-risk industries and highly stressful environments, we can begin to make it normal to seek help for these problems and get the kind of mending you’d get in any other unfortunate medical situation.

Working together is important. Find ways not only to speak out about depression and anxiety in your industry, but help people suffering from panic attacks and depressive episodes find a way to get together and discuss their experiences, and share ways to fight the negativity and keep pushing onwards. It is one thing to discretely seek medication, but it’s another to openly go to therapy and discuss your problems in a way that doesn’t make you feel ashamed about your condition.