Statistics indicate that one in every seven people in the workplace is going through depression, the more significant percentage being women. Depression in the workplace is not a new concept. It can be triggered by several factors. These include working parent guilt, feeling trapped, financial issues, unreasonable demands, bullying, low morale or harassment. Employers should, therefore, create an environment that is safe, transparent and one where employees feel supported, both professionally and on a personal level.
There are signs that an employer should look out for to establish if an employee is going through depression. The following are seven signs of depression in the workplace:
1. Impaired Judgment
There is always that one employee who is usually the go-to person when it comes to questions related to the organization’s business. They seem to always know what to say and how to say it. If suddenly their judgment changes and they can no longer be relied on for sound decisions, there is a need to worry about the employee mental health.
You do not just lose the ability to make sound judgment overnight. The likelihood that you are battling with depression is almost definite. As soon as you start to notice lapses in decision making, seek the help of a professional.
2. Fatigue and Loss of Energy
When you’re depressed, even the simplest things, such as getting out of bed, become hard to do. Fatigue will make going to work a dreadful experience. The zeal with which you used to handle your daily activities is all lost, and you are continually feeling jaded. Various factors can contribute to feelings of fatigue when you’re depressed. These signs of depression in the workplace include sleep problems, poor diet, or stress. It is absolutely normal to feel tired, but when the feeling lingers for a prolonged period, there is cause for alarm.
3. Decreased Productivity
Consequent to the above two signs of depression in the workplace, reduced productivity is inevitable. Most of the time, employers do not understand that a decline in productivity could be a sign of an underlying issue. As much as other ailments could cause a drop in productivity, depression is the most costly since the affected employee still shows up to work. According to a study carried out by Stewart’s researchers, 77 percent of employees suffering from depression reported decreased productivity.
Depression is among the leading causes of absenteeism in the workplace. It is probably the reason you asked for your last sick-off. Most of the time, an employee may shy away from exposing what they’re struggling with. This is because, in most instances, employers don’t empathize with your situation; hence, you are forced to keep it to yourself. Consequently, you end up leaving fulltime employment and choosing to work as a casual.
5. Difficulty Concentrating
If an employee is easily distracted and finding it hard to concentrate or follow instructions, there is a good chance they are suffering from depression. This inability to focus makes it difficult for them to make simple decisions. This is because the part of the brain that enables concentration gets affected when one is going through depression.
For the symptoms to improve, such an employee needs to manage their blood sugar levels as studies have shown that doing so enhances concentration levels. Besides, there are medications they can take to get their concentration back.
6. Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Most people claim they drink when they are stressed or when going through something significant in life. It is true; a bottle of beer may make one feel calm and forget their worries, at least for a moment. However, when the drinking becomes a daily routine, that employee has an alcohol problem.
A significant percentage of people with depression also have an alcohol problem, women being the biggest culprits. Important to note is that alcohol itself is a depressant; hence, the more one indulges in it, the more they get depressed.
7. Reduced Appetite and Weight Loss or Vice Versa
If the other signs are hard to spot, this one is difficult to miss. In the early stages of depression, it’s somewhat hard to recognize an appetite problem. One may start by eating small portions of food, graduating into skipping entire meals. Sometimes the loss of appetite is so bad you forget you are supposed to eat. At this point, you should seek help from a therapist or a doctor so you can find a way forward. It’s never a good sign to start skipping meals.
There’s a lot of stigma associated with depression, especially in the workplace. As a result, victims suffer silently, afraid to come out and seek help. The result is that productivity suffers as employees find all manner of excuses to skip work. However, just as you would speak out and seek help when you have flu, don’t shy away from speaking about depression. There are medications and treatments designed to help you cope with it.