Most people feel gloomy or burned out at work from time to time. Short-term mood fluctuations and emotional responses to daily challenges are normal and healthy. These feelings are not the same as major depressive disorder (MDD), a serious mental illness that can have crippling symptoms. In fact, the World Health Organization identifies depression as a leading cause of disability.
Why does depression affect your ability to work? And how can you manage symptoms of depression at work? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can begin looking for an effective treatment for MDD.
Why Does MDD Make it Hard to Work?
Most people think depression only affects mood. While symptoms such as lack of pleasure, negative outlook, and low self-esteem are certainly characteristic of depression, there’s more to it, especially with severe depression.
Major depressive disorder causes significant biological changes, including altered hormone levels, sleep cycles, and brain structure. These changes can stifle your energy levels, affect your ability to focus, make you lose your appetite, and cause you to sleep more or less than usual. This means your whole body, not just your mind, is experiencing symptoms. As a result, MDD can make it virtually impossible to get out of bed some days, much less be productive at work.
How Can You Combat Depression at Work?
It’s important to see major depressive disorder for what it really is—a medical issue that requires treatment, not a weakness or character flaw you can simply snap out of. Here are some steps you can take to get through depressive episodes at work:
- Take medication: If this isn’t your first bout with depression, you may already be on antidepressants. Keep taking them, and talk to your doctor about adjusting the dosage if you don’t think it’s working well enough. If you’re not on medication yet, ask your doctor about your options.
- Contact your therapist: Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a common way to treat depression. Support groups can also be beneficial. Reach out to your therapist when you’re having a tough day at work. They may be able to talk you through your challenges during your lunch break.
- Meditate: Find a private room at work where you can close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few minutes. Try downloading a guided meditation app that you can tap into whenever you need it.
- Go outside on your break: The bright sunshine and fresh air may be just what you need to make it through the day.
- Exercise: If your office has a gym, go lift some weights on your lunch break to help release mood-elevating endorphins. Don’t have time for a full workout? Try taking a brisk walk instead.
- Pack a nutritious lunch: A healthy diet helps regulate your mood. Focus on eating more fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and fish while limiting your carbohydrate intake.
- Prioritize sleep: Sleep and mood are closely connected. Not getting enough rest can increase irritability and stress, and chronic insomnia can even raise the risk of developing depression. To help you get a good night’s rest, don’t drink caffeine past dinnertime, avoid watching TV in bed, and turn off all screens 30 minutes before going to sleep.
- Take time off: If it requires tremendous effort to get through the day, and your work quality is suffering, take a leave of absence to adjust your treatment. You may qualify for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees job protection for up to 12 (unpaid) weeks of time off for medical reasons.
- Consider changing jobs: If your work isn’t rewarding, or the environment is toxic and triggering, it may not be healthy for you to stay. Talk to your boss about your options. You might even benefit from leaving the traditional 9-to-5 setting and try freelancing or entering the service industry.
Are There Other Treatments for Depression?
If your antidepressants and psychotherapy sessions don’t seem to be helping enough, you have another viable option—Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS™). This non-invasive treatment works by regulating the neural activity of brain structures related to depression. Most importantly, it has been shown to safely and effectively alleviate symptoms in people with treatment-resistant depression. If you’d like to try Deep TMS, BrainsWay has the resources you need.
BrainsWay is a global leader in advanced neurostimulation treatments for mental health disorders, boldly advancing neuroscience with its proprietary Deep TMS technology to improve health and transform lives. BrainsWay is the first and only TMS company to obtain three FDA-cleared indications, including major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and smoking addiction.
For more information about Deep TMS for depression, please visit our online knowledge center or find a provider near you.
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