How To Deal With Depression At Work?

Depression is unbelievably common. 1 in 4 will be diagnosed with depression at some time in their life and it’s the number 1 condition treated by GPs in the UK. Despite the commonality of it, it still carries a stigma of somehow meaning that you’re weak and lack mental strength, which is quite honestly complete nonsense.


Depression is totally indiscriminate and has struck a few of the most extraordinary and powerful men and women in our history, such as Winston Churchill and Charles Darwin. If you are a victim, then you will without doubt have realised it is a fairly horrible thing to manage. Firstly you’ll have to admit that you’re sick, which can be tough. The signs are often subtle and creep up on you within a time period. You learn how to accept that you’re feeling lethargic, unhappy, irritable and weepy all the time and make excuses for it just being the way things are in the present time and that in time your mood will lift.

Sadly, this isn’t the case.

You can not snap from’clinical depression’ you’re sick and need medical treatment and likely a while off work to rest and get better. You wouldn’t be afraid to take time off work if you had a severe illness of any sort, but for some reason we fight to admit’depression’ as a reason to rest and recuperate. Some people will only ever get depression at the same time in their lifetime, brought on by something such as a bereavement or childbirth but for some reason, others suffer over and over throughout their lifetime and will have to learn how to manage the condition long term. With this in mind, you need to be aware it is perfectly plausible to hold down a great job and continue to advance through your career with melancholy. If you’re suffering with depression for the 1st time you probably think I’m talking crap, but believe me after the dark cloud has lifted, you’ll realize you could see things with a much better perspective than you’ve ever done.


My husband has asthma. When he has an attack, his breathing capacity is severely restricted. Normally however his breathing is far better than mine. He receives a device from the physician that you use to gauge the output of your lungs and he’s miles better than me, except through a asthma attack. Think about it and depression. Yes, in the throws of a serious attack of melancholy, your mental ability is poor.

Concentration is bad, you’ll be overly emotional, either irritable or weepy or both and you’ll have a very pessimistic view on life. Once your mood lifts and you’ll have necessarily spent weeks or months in self analysis, you’ll come out the other side, incredibly self conscious, more patient and empathetic. You will definitely have more control over your own moods and feelings and your confidence will return. In effect you will have more control and psychological strength than those who have never suffered with the illness. I’ve worked successfully with depression for ages. It’s not been easy I acknowledge, but it’s possible. Every employer differs and you will face some issues from those people who are ignorant of the problem. Unfortunately this is inevitable.

The law however is on your side. In the UK ‘depression’ is covered by the ‘Disability Discrimination Act’ (DDA) and as such your employer can’t punish you or treat you differently because you’ve got the condition. Depression isn’t straightforward however regarding the DDA, because there are specific exclusions. Firstly melancholy as a one off condition isn’t covered. The way in which the act looks at depression is that you need to have suffered or will probably endure for 12 months or longer to be covered by the action. Employment law is actually complex, but in layman’s terms it needs to be a long term condition to take into account that the DDA applicable in your case. The effect the condition has on your day to day life, ought to be quantified within the act about how you would have the ability to work WITHOUT medication.

What to do?

If you’re uncertain, you should seek independent legal counsel. If you feel you were discriminated against, you must be certain that you’ve done certain things. Firstly, you need to let your employer know that you have the problem. They’re not mind readers, they can’t be expected to understand just from your behavior. If you decide to keep it confidential, you don’t have any rights under the DDA.

Secondly, before you take any lawful action, you need to raise a grievance and give your organization a chance to address your concerns in their internal processes. If after this you’re unsatisfied, then you need to try to have a legal route. This sort of case is quite tricky to prove so make certain to maintain any documentary evidence and if possible get witnesses that are prepared to speak up for you.

This isn’t going to be easy, since these individuals will still be working for the company and may feel threatened or intimidated by the notion of upsetting their managers. It’s much far better to address these things amicably within the business, if it’s in any way possible. You might, if the company has this support, request a ‘Occupational Health’ advisor to perform a work place evaluation to check at the factors present at the workplace, that might have a damaging effect on your wellbeing.

Your employer must, under the DDA make’reasonable adjustments’ to help you manage your condition. I would say it’s much better to work together than to make unreasonable demands. A reasonable adjustment might be flexibility over your hours, as an instance you might have bouts of sleeplessness and if that’s the case, perhaps permit you to begin later in the day and finish later. You may be permitted to work from home 2 days a week or work from an office closer to home.


Remember that you should continue to be able to perform the job you’re paid to do. If your condition means that the occupation is no longer suitable and after looking for an alternative position within the organization you haven’t found a job that you are able to do, your employer can terminate your contract on’capability grounds’. This essentially means you’re no longer able to perform the job you’re paid to do, so they don’t have to continue to hire you. I see no reason why, if you have your medicine right, you can’t continue to work efficiently. You might want to ask yourself the question about how much of your job is causing you to be depressed. That’s a tough one, but the truth is that if your job is the significant factor, then you won’t ever be fully nicely until you change it. You are just going to be papering over the cracks until the upcoming bad attack.


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