Depression in the Workplace: Tips for Managers
What Causes Depression?
- Stressful life events (usually in combination with one or more of the following causes)
- Chronic stress
- Low self-esteem
- Imbalances in brain chemicals and hormones
- Lack of control over circumstances (helplessness and hopelessness)
- Negative thought patterns and beliefs
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease and heart surgery
What Are the Symptoms of Depression in the Workplace?
What Are the Treatment Options?
What's the Next Step?
- Learn about depression and the sources of help that are available.
- Recognize when an employee shows signs of a problem affecting performance that may be depression-related and refer employees appropriately.
- Discuss changes in work performance with the employee. You may suggest that the employee seek professional help if there are personal concerns. Assure the employee that all conversations will be kept in the strictest confidence.
If an employee voluntarily talks with you about her health problems, including feeling depressed or down all the time, keep these points in mind:
- Do not try to diagnose the problem yourself.
- Recommend that any employee experiencing symptoms of depression seek professional help from and employee assistance program (EAP) counselor or other health or mental health professional.
- Recognize that a depressed employee may need a flexible work schedule during treatment. Find out about your company’s policy by contacting your human resources specialist.
- Remember that severe depression may be life-threatening to the employee. If an employee makes comments that sound as if he may be considering suicide, take the threats very seriously. Call an EAP counselor or other specialist immediately and seek advice on how to handle the situation.
- While depressed persons are at much greater risk of harming themselves than others, take any threats against others very seriously and seek professional advice quickly. This is particularly true if a threat involves a family member since spouses and children are among the most common homicide victims of depressed individuals.
The Good News
National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
Mental Health America http://www.nmha.org/
Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org/
Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca/
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml#pub5. Accessed May 9, 2011.
Depression in the workplace. National Mental Health Association website. Available at: http://www.nmha.org/. Accessed June 11, 2003.
Depression in the workplace. University of Michigan Depression Center. Available at: http://www.depressioncenter.org/understanding/workplace.asp. Accessed May 9, 2011.
The effects of depression in the workplace. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/. Accessed June 11, 2003.
What to do when an employee is depressed: a guide for supervisors. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depemployee.cfm. Accessed June 11, 2003.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 05/2011 -
- Update Date: 05/09/2011 -