Friday, May 24, 2024

Should I Talk About My Depression

More And More Employers Support Emotional Wellness In The Workplace

Should I talk to others about my depression?

Mental health stigma is a real thing, but there is growing understanding of how mental health can impact employees, especially at larger companies with human resources departments. Ask to see your employers personnel manual. These documents will tell you what you need to know about your rights and benefits.

When The Times Right Go For It

The relationship you have with your boss will determine the best way for you both to have the discussion. It might be easier for you to request a one-to-one by email, as this can allow you to book some private time away from your colleagues.

But, if your workplace is less formal, and you are able to just go for a coffee and a chat, thats fine and may be best. Talking about your mental health doesnt need to be scary or over-complicated, you can start the conversation by simply saying, I need to get something off my chest or I need to talk, do you have time to listen? Just remember to tell your boss only what is necessary. Be clear and concise, stating the specifics of how your mental health problems are impacting your work. The point here is to keep it professional and appropriateyour boss is not a therapist or close friend, so you need to stick to what matters to the workplace.

Getting A Second Opinion

If you’re unhappy or want to confirm that the advice or support you were given was correct, you can ask for a second opinion from another GP or a specialist. It is your right to see a GP who you feel is competent to deal with your case. You can also make an appointment with another GP in the practice, or change practice altogether if your GP refuses to arrange a second opinion for you.

Sometimes seeing a different doctor can make all the difference.

‘When I first became ill and went to the GP with whom I was registered, he was useless and unsympathetic. I was advised by a friend to see a different GP in my practice. WOW, what a difference. Right from the start he listened, empathised gave me the time and support I needed when I was scared and confused and referred me to the correct mental health service.’ – Edith

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Who Can I Talk To About My Depression

When youre depressed, its easy to feel alone. It might feel like no one understands what youre going through. You might not even fully understand it yourself! Reaching out can be scary, but theres no need to suffer through depression on your own.

Right now, hundreds of millions of people all over the world also live with depressionor have experienced it in the past. It might surprise you how many of those are people you already know. Many more are willing to listen or want to understand.

There will be some people who just wont get it, but its not your job to convince themjust keep trying to find a support system that works for you. The suggestions below are just that: suggestions. Start with whichever option is most comfortable for you right now. You can always open up to more people later on.

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Right now, under the weight of your depression, simply sitting down to talk about it can feel like an enormous burden. But the truth is that you really dont need to be carrying that heavy weight alone. Here are some ideas about how to think about and approach conversations with your family and friends about how you are struggling with depression.

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Should You Talk To Your Boss About Depression

First, you have to decide whether or not you should even tell your boss about your depression. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects people from being fired for their mental health disorder, but that doesnt mean you wont face repercussions. If your work culture is close-minded, you may fear judgment or discrimination from your coworkers or boss.

That being said, if your performance is suffering or you have to miss work, its better to talk about it sooner rather than later. One summer in college I had a depressive episode. During the worst of it, I didnt show up to my internship for a week. It was much harder to explain my behavior to my supervisor after the fact. In retrospect, I wish I had been more upfront about my depression.

What Your Physician Looks For

Your primary care physician can evaluate your physical health to help you understand your symptoms. Theres no lab test to diagnose depression, but physical exams and blood tests can help your doctor better understand whats causing your symptoms.

Your doctor will likely want to do several tests to rules out other causes of depressive feelings, such as:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

To treat your depression, your doctor may prescribe you medications to help or refer you to a licensed mental health professional, like a therapist, for more in-depth evaluation and treatment.

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Some People Don’t Understand Depression

People may want to help you but are not sure how, or they may believe some of the myths that society buys into about depression.

For this reason, you need to be aware of the fact that not everyone will understand what you’re going through.

Consequently, you may want to carefully choose who you disclose this information to and when.

Start by making a list of the most supportive people you know. Typically, these people are the ones you should tell first. Remember, not everyone knows how to offer emotional support though.

If you have friends or family members who lack this skill, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. It just means that they may not be the best ones to invite into your journey. In fact, telling themparticularly when you are vulnerablemay be counterproductive.

It’s Not A Real Mental Health Problem I’m Just Really Stressed Out At The Moment

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You know youre not depressed, because you know exactly why you’re having a hard time right now. Work is crazy, you’ve got things gong wrong with your family and friends, and your house is a disaster area. You have reasons for feeling bad, and it’s easy to rationalise away the possibility that something else may be going on because of that. What you may not know is that some of the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety can make you feel like life is out of control. If youve got one of these conditions you might:

  • have slower thought processes and emotional reactions than normal
  • have decreased ability to focus and concentrate
  • try the same things over and over again when something goes wrong, instead of looking for new solutions
  • or have disrupted sleeping patterns, making you oversleep or have insomnia.

So even if you think that youre just feeling stressed, and you can point out all the reasons why, depression or anxiety might be helping you to feel that way.

If youve been feeling stressed out constantly for two weeks or more, its time to look into the possibility that theres something else going on.

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Do You Have To Disclose Your Mental Health To Your Boss

No. If theres no work-related reason for you to disclose it, then you dont have to open up about any mental challenges you are facing. If, however, your state of mind is affecting your ability to complete your work, your attitude towards it, your relationship with your coworkers or any other issue related to your work environment, then a conversation may be necessary.

According to Tanisha Ranger, PsyD, a psychologist who has helped many patients decide whether or not to bring up their mental health issues with their boss, the right decision really depends on the particular situation.

If you know your boss well and have a good working relationship, I think it could really be beneficial to tell him/her about your mental illness, says the Nevada-based therapist. Understanding what you struggle with, and how it can impact your work, can give you and your boss the opportunity to tailor your environment to optimize your chances for success. It can also reduce the stress you might experience at work . That kind of support can decrease the likelihood of experiencing negative symptoms that could negatively impact you, your work environment, your co-workers, and the business overall.

However, if you do not know your boss well or do not have a good working relationship, telling him/her about your mental health concerns could be detrimental.

Do You Want To Talk About It Im Here When Youre Ready

You cant force someone to talk, but knowing youre available can really help them feel supported.

If they havent been forward with you about their depression, you may want to mention youve noticed theyre having a hard time and youre there if they want to talk. If you simply ask Are you OK? they may be used to pretending and reply Im fine.

If theyre not ready to talk now, remind them youre here for them when theyre ready. When theyre having a hard time and need someone to talk to, they may remember your offer and come to you.

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I Feel Bad Right Now But Things Will Get Better When

There is something extraordinarily tempting about the phrase I just need to get through this

We think, I just need to get through my project at work, and everything will be fine.

Or, I just need to get through my sadness, and then I’ll snap out of it.

Or, I just need to make an effort to be happier.

Or, I just need to get to the end of October, and everything will calm down and I can start dealing with my problems.

At the heart of all these examples is the same mindset: if I’m just a bit stronger, try a bit harder or hold out a little longer, things will worth themselves out.

The idea of strength can be tempting, because so many aspects of an undiagnosed depression can feel they’re making you weak: you might be tired all the time you aren’t thinking as clearly you might not feel motivated to do anything it can be harder to control your negative emotions.

But a mental health condition doesn’t make you weak, any more than having the flu does, and ignoring the possibility that you have one isn’t strength. More importantly, if you do have a mental health condition, you aren’t going to be able to lower your head and power on through forever.

What If My Symptoms Dont Improve

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If youre not responding to treatment, you may live with treatment resistant depression. This is when your symptoms have not improved after at least 2 standard treatments. This can also be known as treatment-refractory depression.

There is currently no official criteria used to diagnose treatment resistant depression.

What treatment is available for treatment-resistant depression?There are treatment options for treatment resistant depression. Even if antidepressants have not worked already for you, your doctor may suggest a different antidepressant from a different class.

The new antidepressant you are offered will depend on the first antidepressant you were given.

Sometimes your doctor can prescribe a second type of medication to go with your antidepressant. This can sometimes help the antidepressant work better than it does by itself.

Where antidepressants have not worked, your doctor may suggest talking therapies, ECT or brain stimulation treatments. See the previous section for more information on these.

What is an implanted vagus nerve stimulator, and how is it used in treatment resistant depression?If you live with treatment resistant depression, and youve not responded to other treatments, you may be able ask for an implanted vagus nerve stimulator.

Please speak to your doctor if youre interested in this treatment and for more information. You may be able to get this treatment funded through an Individual Funding Request.

  • NHS – Your Rights by clicking here.

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What If I Don’t Know What To Say

Don’t wait to talk just because you’re not sure what to say. You can keep it simple. You can start just by saying, “Got a minute? I need to talk.” Then say what you’re going through. For example, “I’ve been feeling down a lot lately. I think I might be depressed.” The person you’re talking to might ask you to tell them more. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get started talking.

Think About What You Need

Think about why youre disclosing this information in the first placewhat support do you need? Hold off on telling your boss until you are clear about what youre hoping to gain by sharing this information. If you are telling your boss because you want to have fewer responsibilities or longer deadlines, for example, consider researching your organizations HR policies first.

Maybe you need a little flexibility with deadlines, some time off, or to cut your hours down slightly. Or, you might need to consider whether flexible hours or remote working might be a better long-term solution. Or, maybe you need to see a therapist.

Its also OK if youre not sure about what to do or what help you needno one is expecting you to be an expert, especially if this is the first time youve experienced a mental health problem. Try to think of small changes that can be easily made.

Once you are clear about the changes you need, go to HR first and carefully document the meeting, advises attorney Matt C. Pinker, who often advises clients on workplace issues. Other times, HR can help you put together a plan of action which you can then take to your boss, he advises. You do not want to be in a position where the boss could unilaterally decide to terminate you after this disclosure, and HR may be able to prevent that.

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I Am Not Alone In Dealing With Depression At Work

Mental illness can be isolating, and I would often find myself thinking that I was the only one struggling with it. Through my recovery, I began to learn more about how many people are impacted by mental health conditions. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States are affected by mental illness every year. In fact, clinical depression is the worldwide. When I think about these statistics in the context of my office, its almost certain that I was not and am not alone in dealing with depression or anxiety.

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Havent felt like yourself lately or longer than just lately? When you feel tired all the time, disinterested in the people, places and activities you love and altogether fatigued in body and mind, you might be facing depression. But you dont have to struggle with it alone, and you can receive help.

Depression isnt a dirty word. Its an extremely common mental health condition almost 17 million Americans have major depressive disorder and most importantly, you can overcome it. Depression might come and go during your lifetime, but its nothing to be ashamed of, and its fully treatable.

If you feel like you might have depression, its normal to feel nervous talking about it. However, your health care team wants to help you feel like yourself again. Your physician, as well as the whole team of compassionate people at the AdventHealth Neuroscience Institute, are here to talk through your symptoms with you non-judgmentally and help you get the treatment that works.

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How You Can Help

It might seem small, but just doing things together, being there and staying connected can be a big help.

Depression and anxiety are so common that its highly likely that at some point youll know someone who might be experiencing it. It might be someone in your whnau, a team-mate or someone from your community. People with depression and anxiety are more likely to get through with help and support than on their own.Being depressed and anxious can be a really lonely experience. Sometimes the most important thing is having supportive people around or checking in. Having a coffee, watching television, phoning or texting to say Hi can help a lot. When youre feeling down, knowing that people are thinking of you can really lift your spirits.Often when people are feeling bad they dont want to go out and do anything. Everything feels just too hard. So encouraging them to do something with you is a great support. It could be something small like watching funny video clips, listening to music, going for a walk or window-shopping. Think about something you both like to do. There are different things you can do, depending on who youre trying to help:

Sharing: Start The Conversation

Once youve decided to share your experience, set up a time to talk one on one in private. Budget more time than you think youll need so that the conversation isnt cut short. Be clear about the impact your mental health challenges are having at work. If the cause is work-related, share that also.

As much as possible, come with suggestions for how your manager or HR can help you. Have ideas about what changes or resources youd find beneficial. These can range widely. Examples include: Im doing fine now, but itd be helpful to know what resources are available if I ever need them, and, A conversation about working styles could help set up some clarity around our norms and relieve stress. This simple practice of sharing what you and your team members need to do your best work is often all thats necessary. Always feel free to suggest co-creating a solution with your manager and HR the onus shouldnt be on you to have all the answers.

Just as you hope that your manager or HR will have empathy for you, try to also have empathy for them. While you may have thought about this in great detail, this is probably news to them. They may not get everything right in the conversation, but they likely have good intentions. Give them grace and allow them to take some time to circle back with next steps. Be sure to set a time to follow up.

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