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How to Deal with Depression at Work

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

If you feel depressed when working, you’re not alone. Sadness, anxiety, loss of motivation, difficulty concentrating, unexplained bouts of crying, and boredom are just a small sampling of the things you may be feeling if you’re experiencing depressive symptoms at work.

What is work depression?

While a job may not cause depression, the environment may worsen symptoms for people who already live with depression.

“Any workplace or job can be a potential cause or a contributing factor for depression depending on the level of stress and available support at the workplace,” said Rashmi Parmar, MD, a psychiatrist at Community Psychiatry.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a negative working environment can lead to:

  • mental and physical health concerns

  • absenteeism

  • lost productivity

  • increased substance use

Mental Health America reports that depression ranks among the top three problems in the workplace for employee assistance professionals.

Dealing with depression in the workplace

If you’re dealing with depression at work, try these tips. They are not intended as a cure, but could help provide ways to better cope if you’re dealing with depression at work.

  • Acknowledge depression: Possibly the first step to managing depression in the workplace is acknowledging it. Come to terms with how you are feeling. What may be driving depression for you? Is it work-related? Or is something else causing it?

  • Seek assistance: Depression will likely not just go away by itself. It’s important that you find a professional counsellor you can connect with and feel safe talking to.

  • Plan time away from work: Strategically plan your time off and vacations so you have something to look forward to, as well as boundaries between work and personal time.

  • Schedule short breaks: Get up and walk, stretch, or plan a lunch break outside. Taking a few moments a day away from your work area may help with mood and give you fresh focus.

  • Practice self-care: If you’re working depressed, it takes a lot of energy to think about how to be good to yourself. Self-care really includes many of the previous tips, including therapy or counselling. Additionally, try to add in things you may enjoy and could provide a mood boost, such as meditation, yoga, running or working out, hiking, listening to your favorite music, or a hobby. Exercise, in particular, boosts endorphins1, which can help lift your mood. Getting outdoors and into the sunshine can raise serotonin levels in the brain.2 This is the same brain chemical that many types of antidepressants help stimulate.3 While it may sound trivial—exercise and sunshine—these activities .


Experiencing symptoms of depression while at work can feel overwhelming. Identifying signs like anxiety, crying, boredom, and lack of interest is the first step to getting help. Remember, you’re not alone. If you’re not ready to reach out at work, make an appointment with a mental health counsellor.

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