5 Ways Depression Can Affect an Employee

Depression is more common than you think with 1 in 5 people experiencing depression at some point in their lives.

The effects of the illness in the workplace are therefore underestimated – there are a number of ways in which depression can affect an employee and in which an employee may manifest their depressive symptoms at work. It is important that you are able to recognise the symptoms of depression as they can sometimes be misinterpreted for laziness or a bad attitude. Here are 5 ways that depression may affect an employee:

1) Absenteeism
Depression puts a large amount of stress on people and as a result of the stigma that individuals with mental health problems experience on a daily basis, sufferers tend to be too embarrassed to talk about their illness. They may ‘call in sick’ for work but blame it on a cold or a stomach bug, or they may be late or want to leave early frequently. In fact, 1 in 5 people take a day off work due to a mental health problem but 95% lie about the real reason for their absence.

2) Decreased productivity
Depression can affect an individual’s abilities to concentrate fully or make appropriate decisions at work. It can also affect employees’ judgement abilities and abilities to work with others. Together, this can result in the significant reduction in the productivity of employees’ work, therefore impacting on the running of the company.

3) Reduced social interaction
Individuals with depression may feel unable to participate in group interactions as a result of their reduced self-esteem and lethargy. They may feel unable to communicate with their colleagues and customers and may approach social situations with negative attitudes.

4) Anger or irritability
Depression in an individual may be manifested into agitation or restlessness. Their tolerance levels tend to decrease significantly, resulting in a short-temper and sometimes aggression.   

5) Safety problems
As a result of  lack of concentration and communication and because depression often causes memory loss, accidents may occur in the workplace, both affecting the sufferer and potentially other employees.

Do any of your employees complain of feeling tired all the time, have trouble concentrating on their work or seem to lack in confidence? Have they shown a significant change in mood or behaviour?
If so, then they may be experiencing depression but don't worry, there are many ways you can help. Download our free checklist here and assess how your company is performing when it comes to stress management in the workplace.

Interested in finding out more about depression in the workplace and how you can help support employees more effectively? Our next Mental Health First Aid Lite Course will be taking place on Wednesday 4th May in Solihull. More details can be found here.

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Birmingham, studying MSci Psychology and Psychological Practice. I am interested in helping individuals with mental health illnesses, and improving the quality of life for those who are suffering with a mental illness.​

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