Overcoming Workplace Depression: Strategies for Coping and Finding Help

January 14, 2023
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

It's a sad truth that many of us experience depression in the workplace. Workplace depression is far too common, and its signs and symptoms can be hard to recognize – even for those who suffer from it themselves. But if you know what to look out for, there are steps you can take towards managing your mental health while at work. In this blog post we'll explore the causes of workplace depression, signs & symptoms to watch out for, coping strategies and how to seek professional help when needed. Let's dive into understanding more about workplace depression so that together we can learn how best to manage it!

What is workplace depression?

Workplace depression is a type of depression that is experienced due to a job-related stressor. It is not the same as clinical depression, which is a more chronic and severe form of depression that is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Workplace depression is a more acute form of depression that is caused by a specific workplace stressor, such as job insecurity, demanding workloads, lack of autonomy, or difficult relationships with colleagues. It can affect an individual’s mental health, physical health, and overall well-being.

Causes of depression in the workplace

Workplace depression is a serious issue that can have long-term consequences on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing. It is important to understand the causes of workplace depression, identify it early and take steps to address it.

Long Hours

Working long hours with little reward or recognition can be one of the leading causes of workplace depression. When employees are not rewarded for their hard work, they may feel unappreciated and undervalued, which can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness.

Job Security

Job insecurity can also contribute to workplace depression as employees worry about their future prospects if they lose their job or cannot find another job easily. This fear can lead to anxiety and stress, both of which are linked with depression.

Difficult Relationships

Difficult relationships with coworkers or supervisors may also cause workplace depression as individuals struggle to get along in the office environment or feel like they are being treated unfairly by those around them.

Feeling Unappreciated

Feeling unappreciated at work is another common cause of workplace depression as employees may feel like their efforts go unnoticed while others receive praise for similar tasks. This feeling often leads people into a downward spiral where they become more depressed over time due to lack of recognition from colleagues or superiors.

High Expectations

High expectations from supervisors can also lead to feelings of inadequacy among workers who do not meet these expectations, resulting in low self-esteem and eventually leading into depressive symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed etc…

Unrealistic Deadlines

Unrealistic deadlines set by employers may leave workers feeling overwhelmed and unable cope with the pressure placed upon them leading them down a path towards burnout accompanied by depressive symptoms such as irritability, difficulty concentrating etc…

Workplace depression can have many causes, ranging from job stress to financial difficulties. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that you can seek help if needed.

depressed-businessman-touching bowed head while sitting at workplace with closed eyes

Signs and Symptoms of depression in the workplace

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of workplace depression so you can take steps to address it before it becomes too severe.

One common sign of workplace depression is feeling overwhelmed or stressed out at work. This could manifest in difficulty concentrating on tasks, procrastination, or an inability to complete tasks in a timely manner. You may also find yourself feeling frustrated with coworkers or customers more easily than usual, which could lead to arguments or tension in the office environment.

Another symptom of workplace depression is low energy levels throughout the day. This could mean having trouble getting up for work each morning, as well as experiencing fatigue during your shift that makes it difficult to stay focused and productive while working. Additionally, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness are often associated with workplace depression. If you’re struggling with these emotions regularly, then it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional right away.

Finally, irritability is another sign that someone might be dealing with workplace depression. If you notice yourself becoming angry more quickly than normal when interacting with colleagues, then this could be an indication that something deeper is going on emotionally for you at work and should not be ignored.

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of workplace depression to address it early on. Next, we will look at some coping strategies for managing workplace depression.

Coping strategies for managing depression at work

When it comes to managing depression at work, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and reach out for help if needed. Some coping skills that can help you manage depression at work include:

Take regular breaks

Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reduce stress and give your mind a much-needed break.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can help you focus on the present moment and take your mind off of your worries.

Connect with supportive coworkers: Connecting with supportive coworkers can help provide emotional support and reduce feelings of isolation.

Talk to a therapist

Talking to a therapist can help you work through your feelings and develop strategies for managing depression at work.

Make time for hobbies

Making time for hobbies and activities that make you feel relaxed and energized can help reduce stress and boost your mood.

Strategies for staying positive at work

It can be difficult to stay positive in the workplace, especially when faced with stressful or overwhelming situations. However, there are several strategies that can help you maintain a positive attitude and outlook on your job.

Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reduce stress and give you time to refocus and recharge. This could include taking a few minutes for yourself during lunch or scheduling short breaks throughout the day where you step away from your desk and take some deep breaths or go for a quick walk outside.

Set Goals

Setting goals for yourself is an effective way to stay motivated at work, as it gives you something to strive towards while also providing structure and direction in your daily tasks. Make sure that these goals are realistic yet challenging enough so that they keep you engaged in your work without feeling overwhelmed by them.

Celebrate Your Successes

It’s important to recognize all the successes along the way – no matter how small they may seem. Acknowledging even minor accomplishments will help boost morale and remind you of why it’s worth putting effort into what you do each day at work.

Find Support

If things become too overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out for support from colleagues or supervisors who understand what it takes to succeed in this environment. Talking through any issues with someone else can often provide clarity on how best to move forward, plus having someone who understands what it’s like working in this field is invaluable.

It is essential not only for physical health but mental health as well, so make sure that self-care is part of your routine both inside and outside of work hours. Whether it's going for walks, meditating, listening to music, or journaling – whatever works best for helping manage stress levels – make sure it's part of your weekly schedule.

It's important to remember that staying positive at work is possible, and there are many strategies you can use. However, if your depression persists, it's important to seek professional help to get the support you need. Next, let's look at how to get help for workplace depression.

How to get help for workplace depression

It is important to seek professional help if you are struggling with workplace depression. A mental health provider can provide counseling services tailored to your individual needs and help you better manage stress levels at work. Symptoms of workplace depression include feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, irritable, or having difficulty concentrating. It’s also common to experience physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches due to increased stress levels in the workplace.

A mental health provider can assess your situation and develop a treatment plan that works for you. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which helps identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones; interpersonal therapy which focuses on relationships between yourself and others; or medication management if needed. Your mental health provider will also be able to refer you to additional resources such as support groups or other professionals who specialize in treating depression related issues in the workplace.

If you feel like your job is taking a toll on your emotional wellbeing, it is important not to ignore these feelings but instead act by seeking professional help from a qualified mental health provider. They can offer guidance and support throughout this difficult time, helping you develop strategies for managing stress levels at work and providing referrals to additional resources such as support groups or medication management if needed.

How to support a coworker struggling with workplace depression

When a coworker is struggling with workplace depression, it can be difficult to know how to best support them. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences depression differently and there isn’t one right way of helping someone who is going through this. Here are some tips for supporting a coworker who is dealing with depression:

man feeling depressed in workplace being comforted by coworkers

Be Compassionate

Showing compassion towards your colleague can go a long way in making them feel supported. Let them know you care about their wellbeing and that you’re available if they need someone to talk to or just want company during lunchtime.

Listen & Validate Their Feelings

Make sure your coworker knows that their feelings are valid and heard by actively listening without judgement or trying to offer advice unless asked for it. Ask open-ended questions such as “How have you been feeling lately?” or “What do you think would help?” This will show your colleague that you understand what they are going through and respect their opinion on the matter.

Encourage Professional Help

If appropriate, encourage your coworker to seek professional help from a therapist or doctor if needed. Offer resources such as mental health hotlines, online therapy services, local counseling centers etc., so they have options when seeking out treatment for their condition. Additionally, let them know that taking time off work might be beneficial in order for them take care of themselves properly during this period of difficulty – make sure they don't feel guilty about doing so.

Create a supportive environment at work by organizing team building activities outside the office setting which promote collaboration among colleagues while also providing an outlet for stress relief away from work duties. Encourage employees to look after each other and themselves by offering flexible working hours, meditation classes, access to gym facilities etc., all of which can contribute towards better overall physical and mental wellbeing within the workplace.

It's important to remember that support and understanding are key when helping a coworker who is struggling with depression. Taking care of yourself is also an essential part of managing stress in the workplace, so let's look at some self-care strategies for dealing with workplace stress.

Self-care strategies for dealing with workplace stress

Workplace stress can be a major source of anxiety and depression. It is important to recognize the signs of workplace stress, such as feeling overwhelmed, irritable, or having difficulty concentrating. Taking steps to manage your own stress levels can help you stay productive and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Here are some self-care strategies for dealing with workplace stress:

Take Breaks

Make sure to take regular breaks throughout the day in order to give yourself time away from your desk and any stressful tasks that may be causing you distress. A few minutes here and there will help clear your mind and allow you to return refreshed when it’s time to get back into work mode.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise has been proven to reduce feelings of stress by releasing endorphins which make us feel good naturally. Whether it’s going for a walk during lunchtime or doing an online yoga class at home after work – making exercise part of your daily routine will help keep those cortisol levels low so that you can remain calm under pressure.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep has been linked with increased levels of cortisol (the hormone associated with our body's fight or flight response). Aiming for 7-8 hours per night is recommended for our bodies and minds to function optimally; this includes avoiding screens before bedtime too.

Eat Well & Stay Hydrated

Eating nutritious meals throughout the day helps provide us with energy needed for tackling challenging tasks at work; similarly staying hydrated keeps us alert whilst also helping flush out toxins from our system which could otherwise cause fatigue or headaches.

Feelings and Mindfulness

Talking about how we feel can help us process emotions better. Connecting with colleagues, friends, family members or even venting on social media can be beneficial in reducing feelings of isolation caused by workplace stressors. This helps provide an outlet for any frustrations and gives us the opportunity to gain a different perspective on our situation.

Mindfulness involves focusing on being present in the moment without judgement, allowing ourselves time each day to focus solely on us rather than worrying about external factors outside our control. This helps put things into perspective so that they don't seem quite as overwhelming anymore. Similarly, meditation techniques have been found helpful in calming down anxious thoughts which might otherwise spiral outwards if left unchecked. Apps like Headspace offer free guided meditations specifically designed around managing anxiety related issues such as workplace stress.

Self-care is essential for managing workplace stress and building resilience. By creating a supportive work environment, we can help foster a healthier work culture that encourages self-care and wellbeing.

Tips for building a supportive work environment

Creating a supportive work environment is essential for employee wellbeing and productivity. It can help to foster collaboration, increase job satisfaction, and reduce stress levels. Here are some tips on how to create an environment that encourages positive mental health:

Promote Open Communication

Encourage employees to speak up about their concerns and ideas to foster open communication between team members. This will help build trust within the workplace and allow employees to feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgement or repercussions.

Offer Flexible Working Hours

Allowing flexible working hours can be beneficial for both employers and employees alike as it allows people more freedom when it comes to managing their workloads while still meeting deadlines. This can also help with reducing stress levels by allowing people more control over their schedules which helps them better manage their time efficiently without feeling overwhelmed or overworked.

Provide Mental Health Resources

Offering resources such as counseling services, mindfulness classes, or other forms of support can be incredibly helpful for those who may be struggling with mental health issues in the workplace such as depression or anxiety disorders. Having access to these resources not only provides individuals with the tools they need but also shows them that you care about their wellbeing which helps build trust between employer and employee relationships.

Create A Positive Work Culture

Creating a positive work culture involves promoting respect among colleagues, encouraging healthy competition, providing recognition for achievements, and creating an atmosphere where everyone feels valued regardless of position or seniority level. Doing this will make sure everyone feels appreciated at work which leads to increased motivation, morale, and overall job satisfaction.

Taking regular breaks throughout the day is important in helping maintain focus while avoiding burnout from long hours spent at work. Vacations are also essential in providing employees with much needed rest away from the office, so they can come back refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

FAQs in Relation to Workplace Depression

Can a workplace make you depressed?

Yes, a workplace can make you depressed. Unhealthy work environments such as those with high levels of stress or bullying can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Poor job satisfaction, long hours, and lack of support from colleagues or management can also contribute to depressive symptoms. It is important for employers to create healthy work cultures that prioritize employee wellbeing to prevent depression in the workplace.

What are 3 workplace signs that an employee might be suffering from depression?

1. A decrease in productivity: If an employee is normally productive but has recently been struggling to complete tasks, this could be a sign of depression.

2. Changes in attitude: An employee who used to be friendly and upbeat may become withdrawn or apathetic, which can indicate that they are suffering from depression.

3. Increased absenteeism: Depression can lead to increased absences from work due to lack of motivation or physical ailments related to the condition such as fatigue and insomnia.

What does depression looks like in the workplace?

Depression in the workplace can manifest itself in a variety of ways. It can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, difficulty concentrating and completing tasks, irritability or apathy towards colleagues and supervisors, and an overall decrease in job satisfaction. Depression can also cause physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, stomach aches or digestive issues. If left untreated it can have a serious impact on both an individual’s work performance and their mental health. It is important for employers to be aware of the signs of depression, so they can provide support for employees who may be struggling with this condition.

How do I get past depression at work?

Depression at work can be a difficult challenge to overcome. The first step is to identify the underlying cause of your depression and take steps to address it. Consider talking with a mental health professional or counselor who can help you develop coping strategies for dealing with stress, anxiety, and other symptoms of depression. Additionally, make sure that you are taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring joy into your life. Finally, reach out for support from family members or friends if needed; having someone there to listen and provide encouragement can be invaluable in helping you move past depression at work.


Depression in the workplace can have a devastating impact on your well-being, productivity, and relationships with coworkers. It’s important to understand what workplace depression is, its causes of it, and how to cope with it to create a healthy work environment. This guide provided you with the tools and strategies you need to cope with depression at work, stay positive, and create a supportive work environment. If you’re struggling with workplace depression, remember to reach out for help, practice self-care, and create a supportive work environment.

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