(Note: Since this post appeared, the Recover Life from Depression site has been combined with this one. The posts referred to are now at Storied Mind, and the links below will take you to them.)
I’ve recently completed a series of posts at the Recover Life site about handling the effects depression at work. I’ve written about this topic here as well, especially in this post about changing careers. The new series offers more detail on three dimensions of the problem: recognizing the symptoms, adapting to depression at your present job and making more fundamental changes in your worklife.
The only strategy that helped me was the most extreme, switching to a much different type of work. Although it took me far too long to recognize its effect, stress from a demanding profession intensified my illness and delayed recovery for years. Once I retired and stopped the blasting noise of that work, I could set my own pace and spend more time on the activities that helped me get control over depression.
Researchers like Robert Sapolsky have identified several factors that turn the brain’s stress response into a chronic condition rather than the brief survival strategy it was meant to be. Unfortunately, they characterize the working lives of most people these days.
- Daily life at work feels out of your control
- Things are unpredictable
- There are no outlets for stress
- You have no social support at work
If you work in an environment that keeps up the stress level, you may have to find a new job in a less damaging workplace. When that doesn’t help relieve depression, you may have to consider a different line of work, one that will greatly reduce the daily pressure. As I found, however, even that may not be the end of the story.
After changing careers and devoting myself to writing, I continued to put stress on myself. I had lived so long with deep feelings of inadequacy that I felt driven to use work as one way to make up for being less than I needed to be. Fortunately, this tendency has been much more manageable because I have had control over what I do, and work has lost its unpredictability. But it’s something I have to stay alert to, and I think many have a similar problem.
In keeping with the purpose of Recover Life from Depression, these posts emphasize the practical side of dealing with depression at work. They offer specifics on what to look and options for change. I hope you’ll find them helpful and let me know what you think.
How have you tried to adapt to work while living with depression?