How to Deal with Work Related Depression

How to Deal with Work Related Depression

Work-related depression likely makes it hard for you to get through your day. While depression can make you feel like you’re alone, it’s actually a pretty common experience. In the modern workforce, work-related depression is a growing concern as workers try to handle demanding schedules and feelings of uncertainty. Fortunately, you have options for dealing with your depression so you can have a happier work life.


[Edit]Finding Fulfillment in Your Work

  1. Look for value in your job while you look for something better. Changing jobs can be really difficult, so you might feel stuck at your current job. Assigning value and purpose to your job may help you feel more positive about it. Think of all the ways your job benefits your life, such as providing you money to pay for a home, food, and other items. Additionally, brainstorm the ways your job allows you to help others, contribute to society, or fulfill an interest of yours.[1]
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    • For example, let’s say you work in retail. You might focus on helping others find the items they need. Additionally, you might volunteer for tasks that make you feel good about yourself, like using your creativity to design a display.
    • Similarly, let’s say you’re a teacher who’s overwhelmed. You might remind yourself that you’re helping shape young people’s lives and focus on the relationships you’re building with your students.
  2. Focus on tasks and situations in your workplace that you can control. Oftentimes, work-related depression occurs when you feel like you have no control at work. You might be upset because your schedule is inflexible, your voice isn’t being heard, or your tasks feel overwhelming. Instead of thinking about what you can’t control, use the power that you do have. Take ownership of tasks you can do independently and incorporate bits of your personality into your job.[2]
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    • For instance, you might use your own pens and notepads so they can be personalized. Similarly, you might ask your boss if you can decide in which order you complete tasks.
  3. Talk to your supervisor about changes you can make to your job. You may need support for your supervisor to overcome your work-related depression, especially if you’re unhappy in your job. Meet with your supervisor to talk about adjusting your workload, moving to a different position, changing your work space, or taking a few days off.[3]
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    • You might say, “Lately I’ve been really struggling because I’m feeling depressed. I want to keep working here, so I’m hoping you can help me make some changes to my workload that are beneficial to both the business and my mental health.”
  4. Update your resume so you can look for another job. If your job is making you depressed, it may be time to move on to a different career. You need a current resume to help you find the right career for you. Create an updated resume that reflects your current education and job skills so you can start applying for new jobs.[4]
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    • If you’re applying for different types of jobs, you might create more than 1 resume so you can highlight job-specific skills.
  5. Set aside time each week to send out job applications. You may have to apply for a lot of jobs before you find one that’s a good fit for you. Schedule time into your week to search for jobs and apply for the ones that look good for you. Provide a resume, cover letter, and any other information that’s requested.[5]
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    • For instance, you might apply for jobs from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. every Saturday morning.
    • You may be able to reuse the same cover letter for similar jobs. However, proofread it carefully to make sure you’ve changed any important details, like the job title or name of the company.
  6. Take time off if you have any available. It’s important to take breaks from work, especially if it’s making you depressed. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so don’t be afraid to take the time you need. Use any vacation or sick time that you’ve accumulated, or ask for a few days of unpaid leave if you can afford it. Use this time to rest and do things that make you happy.[6]
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    • Take a mental health day! For instance, ask for a Friday or Monday off if you have weekends off so you can have a special 3-day weekend. If you work weekends, ask if you can have your days off together during the week.
    • If possible, you might take a relaxing vacation. If you can’t afford to stay somewhere, see if a friend or family member will let you stay with them for a few days.

[Edit]Staying Strong Throughout the Workday

  1. Smile when interacting with others even though you feel down. If your job is making you depressed, you probably hate being there, which can show in your facial expression. Do your best to force a smile when you’re talking to customers or coworkers. Try to think of something positive to help you smile, like your pet or a happy memory.[7]
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    • You might also fantasize about the day you won’t have to deal with customers anymore. Anything to get you through the day!
  2. Don’t complain about your job at work. It’s okay to vent about what you don’t like to your friends or family. However, keep your thoughts to yourself when you’re in the workplace so you won’t accidentally damage your reputation. When it comes time for you to move on to another job, you can do so on your own terms and are more likely to get a positive reference.[8]
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    • For instance, you might be tempted to complain to a coworker about how your boss handles rude customers. However, it’s best to talk to a friend instead so your boss doesn’t find out.
  3. Be mindful at work so you don’t get overwhelmed. You probably have a lot to deal with at work, like deadlines, upcoming projects, and client demands. It’s easy to get preoccupied with the future and all that you need to accomplish, which can trigger depression. Instead, be mindful by focusing your thoughts on what’s happening in the moment. Just try to get through one day at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed.[9]
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    • When you make a to-do list, identify the things you can actually get done today and give yourself permission to think about the other things at a later time. Stressing about upcoming work and beating yourself up about things is not going to help you be more productive.
  4. Prioritize your work tasks to help you avoid falling behind. You probably have tasks that are essential to get completed and others that can wait. Identify which tasks you need to do pronto and what you can put off if necessary. Work on your high priority tasks first so you don’t feel like you’re falling behind at work.[10]
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    • If you work in an office, you might prioritize responding to emails, taking care of client needs, and sending reports to your boss. You might spend less time scheduling meetings with coworkers, filing documents, and planning for new projects.
    • Similarly, at a retail job you might prioritize helping customers, tending to your register, and keeping the shelves tidy.

[Edit]Improving Your Time at Work

  1. Add cheerful or personalized decorations to your work space. Decorating your work area can help you feel more at home and might lift your spirits. Pick items that inspire happiness, offer encouragement, or make you feel more comfortable. You might incorporate 1 or more of the following:[11]
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    • A potted plant
    • A photo of your loved ones
    • Inspirational quotes
    • A coffee mug or water bottle that makes you happy
    • Brightly-colored pens
  2. Spend time around coworkers so you don’t feel alone. Feeling isolated and lonely at work is a common trigger for workplace depression, so being around others can help. Set up your workstation so you can see other people around you. When possible, enjoy your breaks and lunches with a coworker or friend. Reminding yourself that you aren’t alone may help you feel better in time.[12]
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    • For instance, you might face your desk toward the center of the room instead of a wall. Similarly, you might pair up with a coworker to zone aisles at a department store.
    • Depression can make you want to withdraw from others, but doing so can make you feel worse. Try to talk to someone else even if it’s just for 5 minutes at a time.
  3. Take breaks so you can get your mind off of work. A 10-15 minute break gives you time to clear your mind, focus on something else, and start again fresh. Similarly, lunch breaks allow you to recharge and have fun in the middle of the work day. Schedule at least 2 breaks into your day so you have time for yourself. Spend this time chatting with someone, going for a walk, reading an article, doodling, or enjoying a treat.[13]
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    • Don’t talk about work or stressful topics during your breaks. Treat that time as “me time.”
    • Ideally, take a short mid-morning break, a lunch, and a brief mid-afternoon break.

[Edit]Building a Support System

  1. Give yourself support by using positive self-talk. When you’re dealing with depression, you may have a constant stream of negative, judgmental thoughts in your head. Confronting these thoughts with positive self-talk can help you feel better. Talk to yourself like you would speak to a friend who’s dealing with workplace stress and depression. Accept your struggles and encourage yourself to keep going.[14]
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    • Spend 5 minutes a day reminding yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.
    • If you catch yourself thinking, “I’m so behind today! I’ll never get caught up,” replace it with something like, “I can only do my best. Everyone has productive and nonproductive days, so I’m just going to keep working and trust that I’ll catch up.”
  2. Talk to your family and friends about how you feel. Your loved ones can provide you the support you need while you cope with your work-related depression. Tell them what you’re going through and how it’s affecting your life. Ask them to be there for you and help you when you need it.[15]
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    • You might say, “Work is overwhelming me right now, and I’m not sure if I can handle it. I’m feeling really depressed. Can I call you when I need to talk?”
    • If you need help taking care of your responsibilities, you might say, “Right now work is taking everything out of me. Do you think you could handle the laundry this week?”
  3. Reach out to a mentor, coworker, or supervisor who can advise you. You likely have an ally at work who can help you during this difficult time. Talk to someone you trust about your struggles and ask them for advice. Listen to what they have to say and see if it might work for you.[16]
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    • You could say, “Right now I feel empty. What part of your job makes you feel fulfilled?”
  4. Take advantage of employee assistance programs if they’re available. Many employers offer employee assistance programs that include mental health support. Talk to human resources or your supervisor to learn if these are available to you. If so, enroll in a program so you can get the help you need.[17]
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    • You might be able to get free or inexpensive counseling sessions. Additionally, you may be able to get training or support.
  5. Work with a therapist to help you learn new coping strategies. You may not be able to overcome your depression on your own, and that’s okay. A therapist can help you change your thoughts and behaviors so you can deal with your symptoms. Additionally, they can help you learn how to change your self-talk. Ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist or look for one online.[18]
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    • Your therapy appointments may be covered by insurance, so check your benefits.

[Edit]Creating a Work-Life Balance

  1. Practice self care to help you get through this difficult time. Feeling depressed can make it super hard to take care of your needs. However, it’s extremely important that you take good care of yourself so you can start feeling better. Eat healthy meals, take daily baths, follow an exercise plan, sleep 7-9 hours a night, and do something every day that makes you feel good.[19]
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    • Self care is about more than just treating yourself to something nice. It includes eating well, caring for your body, and taking care of your responsibilities.
  2. Schedule time every day to do something you enjoy. You don’t need a large block of time to have fun. Even 15-30 minutes can be enough time on a busy work day to do something you enjoy. Give yourself time to have fun every day so you don’t feel like work is controlling your life. Here are some ideas: [20]
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    • Go to a local park. You might even go with a friend, your partner, your kids, or your dog.
    • Watch an episode of your favorite show.
    • Take a bath.
    • Read a chapter of a book.
    • Work on an art piece or craft project.
    • Play a computer or board game.
    • Try a new restaurant for lunch or dinner.
  3. Exercise for 30 minutes a day to boost your mood. Since exercise releases endorphins, it helps you feel happier, even when you’re dealing with depression. Additionally, it relieves stress, which can help you feel less overwhelmed with work. Choose an exercise that you enjoy so it’s easier to stick with it every day.[21]
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    • As an example, go for a brisk walk, swim laps, run, join a recreational sports team, take a dance class, or attend a gym class.
  4. Engage in relaxing activities to help relieve your stress. Although stress is a normal part of life, too much stress can be harmful. Identify coping strategies that help relieve your stress. Then, incorporate them into your daily schedule to help you manage your work stress. Here are some ways you might relax:[22]
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    • Meditate for 15-30 minutes.
    • Color in an adult coloring book.
    • Do breathing exercises.
    • Spend time in nature.
    • Talk to a friend.
    • Write in a journal.
  5. Sleep at least 7-9 hours a day so you’re better rested. You may be more likely to fall into a depression if you’re sleep deprived, though depression may also make you sleep more. Give yourself enough time to get at least 7 hours of sleep so you’re more likely to be rested. Additionally, follow a bedtime routine to help you relax and fall asleep.[23]
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    • For instance, you might go to bed at 10:00 p.m. every night and wake up at 6:00 a.m. every morning.
    • Your bedtime routine might consist of showering, putting on pajamas, and reading a chapter of a book.
  6. Schedule electronic detox time into every day. You might feel like you’re always tethered to your work because you get emails, calls, or texts at all hours of the day. You may feel like you have to answer these messages right away in order to keep your job, but it’s still important to set boundaries. Decide which hours of the day are off-limits for you. Silence your phone and don’t answer emails during this time.[24]
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    • On work days, you might put your phone on silent and avoid checking your email after 8:00 p.m.
    • On the weekends, you might designate times to deal with emails and texts that are related to work, if necessary. For instance, you may address work tasks from 10:00 a.m. to noon only.


  • While your career is important, you need to prioritize your own needs. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and make changes to help yourself feel better.[25]


  • While work can cause depression, it’s also a serious mental health condition. You may need to undergo treatment with a mental health professional and could need medication to help you overcome your symptoms. Talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t need additional treatment.[26]


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