Handling Depression at Work

Devising a depression treatment plan to get you up and out every morning can make dealing with work a lot easier.

Has daily gloom become part of your daily grind? Of the nearly 19 million American adults with a depressive disorder, almost 90 percent of them say that their illness has affected their ability to do their job.

That’s because when you have depression, it can be challenging to just get out of bed in the morning, much less go to work.

"There are different levels of depression," says Julie Walther Scheibel, MEd, a counselor at Concordia Seminary Counseling and Resource Center in St. Louis. "Some people are so depressed that they quit work."

With the right treatment plan, you probably will be able to manage working while undergoing depression treatment, and maybe even look forward to it.

Depression: Symptoms That Could Affect Work

Depression symptoms can affect every aspect of your life, and symptoms that are more likely to cause difficulty at work include:

  • Crying frequently
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Irritable mood
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pessimism or lack of caring
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions

Depression: Making Work Easier

When your depression makes getting up and going to work difficult, you might want to enlist a friend or family member who can help motivate you.

"You need to have a spouse or someone else check in with you periodically to make sure you get going during the day," says Walther Scheibel.

While you are at work, it is important to:

  • Take regular breaks. Stepping back from work and doing something that relaxes you, like meditating or listening to music, can help you cope with stress.
  • Stay in touch. Make regular phone calls during the day to friends and family, since staying in contact with someone you trust can give you perspective on what really matters and keep you focused on getting better.
  • Take baby steps. When you are working on a project that seems overwhelming, break it into multiple steps, and complete them one at a time.
  • Stick with your depression treatment. Take your medications and attend your counseling sessions to ease the depression symptoms that are making it difficult for you to function.

Walther Scheibel also recommends finding things to do outside of work that relax you and bring you pleasure, such as regularly exercising, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, journaling, playing an instrument, or taking an art class — "things that soothe the mind," as she calls them.

She also recommends getting involved in activities that make you feel productive outside of work, such as volunteering, helping family members or friends, or taking classes to develop new skills.

Depression: Telling Co-Workers

Whether to tell co-workers about your depression is your decision. But if you need to take time off to focus on your depression treatment or if you need special accommodations at work, you’ll probably have to tell your supervisor or human resources department about your illness.

And it is an illness: There is no reason to be ashamed of your depression. When talking to a supervisor, focus on the positive aspects of your discussion, such as how the special accommodations will make you more productive.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is to take care of you. When you are putting yourself first, your ability to work will improve, too.

Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Original article: http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/managing/bad-days-at-the-office.aspx

More Emotional Health...

Devising a depression treatment plan to get you up and out every morning can make dealing with work a lot easier.

Has daily gloom become part of your daily grind? Of the nearly 19 million American adults with a depressive disorder, almost 90 percent of them say that their illness has affected their ability to do their job.

That’s because when you have depression, it can be challenging to just get out of bed in the morning, much less go to work.

"There are different levels of depression," says Julie Walther Scheibel, MEd, a counselor at Concordia Seminary Counseling and Resource Center in St. Louis. "Some people are so depressed that they quit work."

With the right treatment plan, you probably will be able to manage working while undergoing depression treatment, and maybe even look forward to it.

Depression: Symptoms That Could Affect Work

Depression symptoms can affect every aspect of your life, and symptoms that are more likely to cause difficulty at work include:

  • Crying frequently
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Irritable mood
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pessimism or lack of caring
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions

Depression: Making Work Easier

When your depression makes getting up and going to work difficult, you might want to enlist a friend or family member who can help motivate you.

"You need to have a spouse or someone else check in with you periodically to make sure you get going during the day," says Walther Scheibel.

While you are at work, it is important to:

  • Take regular breaks. Stepping back from work and doing something that relaxes you, like meditating or listening to music, can help you cope with stress.
  • Stay in touch. Make regular phone calls during the day to friends and family, since staying in contact with someone you trust can give you perspective on what really matters and keep you focused on getting better.
  • Take baby steps. When you are working on a project that seems overwhelming, break it into multiple steps, and complete them one at a time.
  • Stick with your depression treatment. Take your medications and attend your counseling sessions to ease the depression symptoms that are making it difficult for you to function.

Walther Scheibel also recommends finding things to do outside of work that relax you and bring you pleasure, such as regularly exercising, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, journaling, playing an instrument, or taking an art class — "things that soothe the mind," as she calls them.

She also recommends getting involved in activities that make you feel productive outside of work, such as volunteering, helping family members or friends, or taking classes to develop new skills.

Depression: Telling Co-Workers

Whether to tell co-workers about your depression is your decision. But if you need to take time off to focus on your depression treatment or if you need special accommodations at work, you’ll probably have to tell your supervisor or human resources department about your illness.

And it is an illness: There is no reason to be ashamed of your depression. When talking to a supervisor, focus on the positive aspects of your discussion, such as how the special accommodations will make you more productive.

Keep in mind that the most important thing is to take care of you. When you are putting yourself first, your ability to work will improve, too.

Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Original article: http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/managing/bad-days-at-the-office.aspx

Were you really grumpy when you lost power during Hurricane Sandy? If so, you may be more likely to suffer negative health consequences 10 years down the road than those who took the superstorm in stride.

While the widespread perception has always been that stress induces a vast array of health problems -- everything from anxiety to fatigue -- researchers from Penn State University say that it's actually the way people react to potentially stressful situations that determines whether they will suffer adverse health effects in the future.

"Our research shows that how you react to what happens in your life today predicts your chronic health conditions and 10 years in the future, independent of your current health and your future stress," said David Almeida, professor of human development and family studies at Penn State. "For example, if you have a lot of work to do today and you are really grumpy because of it, then you are more likely to suffer negative health consequences 10 years from now than someone who also has a lot of work to do today, but doesn't let it bother her."

Using a subset of those participating in the MIDUS (Midlife in the United States) study funded by the National Institute on Aging, Almeida and others investigated the relationships among stressful events in daily life, people's reactions to those events and their health issues 10 years later.

The researchers talked to 2,000 people by phone for eight nights in a row about what had happened to them in the past 24 hours. They asked about each person's use of time, their moods, their health and the stressful events they had experienced.

"Most social-science surveys are based on long retrospective accounts of your life in the past month or maybe the past week," Almeida said. "By asking people to focus just on the past 24 hours, we were able to capture a particular day in someone's life. Then, by studying consecutive days, we were able to see the ebb and flow of their daily experiences."

Researchers surveyed MIDUS participants from 1995 and 2005, giving them a real long-term look at how experiences that were occurring 10 years ago were related to present health issues.

According to Almeida, certain types of people are more likely to experience stress in their lives. Younger people, for example, have more stress than older people; people with higher cognitive abilities have more stress than people with lower cognitive abilities; and people with higher levels of education have more stress than people with less education.

"What is interesting is how these people deal with their stress," said Almeida. "Our research shows that people age 65 and up tend to be more reactive to stress than younger people, likely because they aren't exposed to a lot of stress at this stage in their lives, and they are out of practice in dealing with it. Younger people are better at dealing with it because they cope with it so frequently. Likewise, our research shows that people with lower cognitive abilities and education levels are more reactive to stress than people with higher cognitive abilities and education levels, likely because they have less control over the stressors in their lives."

While stress may be a symptom that a person's life is filled with hardship, it could also simply mean that the person is involved in a whole host of activities and experiences.

"If this is the case, reducing exposure to stressors isn't the answer," said Almeida. "We just need to figure out how to manage them better."

By Shelley Emling
Original article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/national-stress-awareness-day_n_2082186.html

Ever feel overwhelmed by anxiety? Well you are not alone. General Anxiety Disorder affects about 6.8 million American adults. If you ever have the feeling that you cannot get rid of your concerns and cannot relax there are steps you can take to help.

  1. Talk to your doctor, tell them about your symptoms and they may refer you to a mental health specialist.
  2. There are many treatments for GAD, including: Psychotherapy, medication, or both.
  3. After talking to a doctor you can find the best option for you!
  4. Stress management techniques such as meditation can also be a major help.

To find out more information, visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml

Tip: Change What You Can, Accept the Rest

Divorce, layoffs, threat of terrorism -- there's plenty of anxiety around for everyone these days. And very often, the source is something we can't change. How do you know when it's time to get help dealing with your anxieties?

To better understand the underpinnings of anxiety -- and how to better cope -- WebMD turned to two anxiety experts: Jerilyn Ross, MA, LICSW, director of The Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Inc., and Linda Andrews, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Normal vs. Harmful Anxiety

The cold sweat of anxiety is that "fight or flight" response that kept our early relatives safe from grizzly bears and other scary characters, says Andrews. "That adrenaline rush still serves us well under certain circumstances. Anxiety is a natural reaction to those very real stresses."

In today's world, "that reaction helps motivate us, prepares us for things we have to face, and sometimes give us energy to take action when we need to," adds Ross.

Big job interview is coming up, and it's got you in knots. So "you spend a little more time getting dressed or rehearsing what you're going to say," Ross says. "You've got an appointment with the divorce lawyer, so you do more homework. That kind of anxiety can motivate you to do better. It helps you protect yourself."

But as we know too well, sometimes it doesn't take a specific threat -- only the possibility of crisis -- to send humans into anxiety mode. "The difficulty comes in learning to tone down that automatic response -- to think, 'How serious is the danger? How likely is the threat?' "says Andrews.

"The thing about anxiety is, it can take on a life of its own," she adds. "Everything becomes a potential crisis. The unthinkable has happened. So around every corner, there's the next possible disaster."

The Anxiety Toll

When anxiety is taking a toll, your body knows it. You have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating. You get headaches; your stomach is upset. You might even have a panic attack -- the pounding heart, a feeling of lightheadedness.

Anxiety may also feel like depression. "The two sometimes overlap," Ross says.

When anxiety becomes so overwhelming that it interferes with day-to-day activities -- when it keeps you from going places, from doing things you need to do -- that's when you need help, says Ross.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a bigger syndrome -- "like a worry machine in your head," Ross says. "If it's not one thing, it's another. You're procrastinating to the point that you're almost afraid to take a step. You're so nervous about going to your child's school to talk to the teacher, you just don't go -- you miss the appointment."

In the case of such overwhelming anxiety, "people are not making good decisions," says Ross. "They're avoiding things, or they're unable to rise to the occasion because the anxiety is too much. They're procrastinating because they can't concentrate, can't stay focused. It's really interfering with their day-to-day life. At that point, they may have a more serious anxiety problem and need professional help."

 How Do You Cope?

To cope with plain-vanilla anxiety, "get real," as they say. "Separate out the real risks and dangers that a situation presents and those your imagination is making worse," advises Ross. It's a twist on the old adage: "Take control of the things you can, and accept those you can't change."

"Ask yourself: Where can you take control of a situation? Where can you make changes? Then do what needs to be done," she says. "What things do you simply have to accept? That's very important."

Very often, it's possible to get past an anxiety cycle with the help of friends or family -- someone who can help you sort out your problems. But when anxiety becomes overwhelming, it's time for a therapist, or perhaps medication.

Here are two strategies that therapists use to help us conquer anxiety:

Challenge negative thoughts

Ask yourself: Is this a productive thought? Is it helping me get closer to my goal? If it's just a negative thought you're rehashing, then you must be able to say to that thought: 'Stop.' "That's difficult to do, but it's very important," Ross says.

Rather than becoming paralyzed with anxiety, here's another message you can send yourself: "I may have to take a job I don't like as much, may have to travel further than I want, but I'll do what I have to do now. At least I will have the security of income in the short term. Then I can look for something better later."

The most important thing: "to realize when you've done everything you can, that you need to move forward," Ross says.

Learn to relax.

You may even need "breathing retraining," Ross adds. "When people get anxious, they tend to hold their breath. We teach people a special diaphragmatic breathing -- it calms your system. Do yoga, meditation, or get some exercise. Exercise is a terrific outlet for anxiety."

Most of all, try not to compound your problems, adds Andrews. "When things are bad, there is a legitimate reason to feel bad," she says. "But if you don't deal with it, you're going to lose more than just a job -- you'll lose relationships, your self confidence, you could even lose technical abilities if you stay dormant in your profession. Try not to compound one stress by adding another."

Often your ability to work through anxiety -- get past it -- varies depending on the type of crisis you faced. "The more severe, the more surprising it was, the longer it's going to take to get over it," says Andrews. "You may be on autopilot for several weeks. If you're depressed, that can complicate things. In the case of divorce, it may take months to years to really get back to yourself."

But take heart. "If you're doing well in one aspect of your life -- in your work or your relationships -- you're probably on your way," she says. "Fear and anxiety are no longer running your life."

Medication for Anxiety Disorders

Medication will not cure an anxiety disorder, but it will help keep it under control. If anxiety becomes severe enough to require medication, there are a few options.

Antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, may be effective in treating many types of anxiety disorders.

Other treatment includes benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, and Xanax alone or in combination with SSRI medication. These drugs do carry a risk of addiction so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability.

Beta-blockers can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia.

By: Jeanie Lerche Davis
Original Article: http://www.webmd.com/jeanie-lerche-davis