depression and anxiety at work


Depression and Anxiety at Work

In many workplaces, depression and anxiety are still considered a character flaw rather than a mental illness. It can be what we call an invisible disability. You likely struggle with your compassion as much as you do the understanding of those around you. Under the law, mental illness is considered a disability.

When researching depression and anxiety and work, many articles focus on the monetary cost to society. Both depression and anxiety at work cause difficulty in concentration and memory, indecisiveness, and fatigue. These symptoms cause worker error and cost businesses money. Anxiety and depression also cause missed days and increased health care costs. Finally, they cause suicide.

Sadly, we need to talk about the “cost” in dollars before society pays attention to our fellow man’s pain and suffering. However, that’s often how our country works. We don’t prioritize mental illness.

Depression and anxiety at work: A culture of capitalism can cause it

Depression and anxiety at work are often caused or exacerbated by the culture of the workplace. Abusive bosses, cooperate speedup, and the climate of competitiveness are things that I have sent to worsen my client’s poor mental health. It can be difficult when you are in this situation to see that the problem is the environment. Someone may convince you that you are the problem, worsening your state of mind. Many clients come to me sick because their workplace is making them sick.

What to Do if  You are Experiencing Anxiety and Depression at Work


1.Practice self-compassion and self-care

Because our society still stigmatizes mental illness, it may be difficult for you to be kind and compassionate to yourself if you are struggling with these issues at work.

Often most of the work I do with my clients has to do with self-care; if they have a mental illness, they need to recognize they need and deserve their love. This includes coming up with a plan of self-care. Self-care does not mean getting their nails done or taking a bubble bath, although that’s okay. Essentially that means caring for themselves like they would want the most loving parents to do or like they would advise someone they deeply loved to do.

2. Do not expect yourself to keep up with your colleagues when you struggle with anxiety or depression.

Especially during periods when you are having episodes that are making it difficult to perform. Give yourself grace.

3.Find one good friend you can trust, but be careful about the rest. If you are suffering from depression and anxiety and deciding not to disclose, it might be important to remember that workplaces are not normally places to discuss your personal business. If you tell one person it’s the equivalent of telling everyone.

3. Don’t stay in toxic work environments. Bosses and coworkers can be abusive, just like families do not tolerate it. It will make you physically and mentally sick. Don’t delay quitting because you are afraid. You will never regret leaving a job that is toxic to your health.

4. Pick workplaces that have the best fit for you. Work schedule, work culture, flexibility, and commute all have a tremendous impact on how you feel. I coach my clients to consider this carefully when selecting a job. When they look back and reflect on jobs they chose to quit or were fired from, they often find clear patterns that were responsible for their stress. It is not indulgent to do this but smart.

5. Consider advocating for yourself on the job.

What Rights do I have if I have Anxiety and Depression at Work?

You do have rights! If you are worried about disclosing your disability, you have reason to be. The truth is there isn’t an easy answer about whether or not to disclose if you have depression and anxiety at work. The culture of your workplace really dictates whether or not to disclose this and your supervisor’s attitude. I have had several clients who had bad experiences disclosing their mental health condition. Others have had good ones. One of the deciding factors can be whether people in management have mental illness in their own families.

Right now, under the law, you have the right to :

  • Take a reasonable time off for therapy and treatment for your condition.
  • Reasonable accommodations so you can do your job. For example, if you had anxiety or ADHD and a loud noise was distracting you, you could ask for a quieter office or space.
  • Supervisory conditions that accommodate your impairment. For example, if you were having trouble with memory, you could ask for your writing instructions.

“You can get a reasonable accommodation for any mental health condition that would if left untreated, “substantially limit” your ability to concentrate, interact with others, communicate, eat, sleep, care for yourself, regulate your thoughts or emotions, or do any other “major life activity.” (You don’t need to actually stop treatment to get the accommodation.)” eeoc website



How to get accommodations at work:


  • You can ask for them.
  • You tell your supervisor, HR manager, or another person you have a medical condition and need accommodation.
  • It’s best to ask for an accommodation before it impairs your work.
  • Any place of business can fire you for not doing your job. Anticipating that you might struggle and being proactive is the best way to help yourself.


Depression and Anxiety at Work References and Resources

Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights

Goleman, D. (1993, December 03). Costs of Depression Are on a Par With Heart Disease, a Study Says. Retrieved October 01, 2020, from

Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.

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