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Excerpt #7 of Lynn Crilly's 'Hope with Depression' - Work stress versus work depression
Posted by SANE
24th Jan 2020

Work stress versus work depression

It is important to note that feeling stressed, irritable, upset and/ or demoralised at work is very common. We all have days when everything seems to go wrong or times when we struggle to get along with our boss or colleagues. Those difficult feelings may even escalate to the point where they have an effect on our life, leaving us questioning whether we want to continue in our job or even leading to Sunday-night dread about going to work the next day. Though those emotions are very real and can be hugely challenging, they do not necessarily equate to depression. Generally, if tackled – by changing jobs, improving work-life balance or finding solutions at work – the stress can be lessened. By contrast, depression seeps into every part of a person’s life, leaving them feeling hopeless, adrift and unable to find a light in their darkness. Their bleak feelings are unlikely to lift when they finish work and their home and social life are also likely to be affected by their dark mood. The two are different and that distinction should be made. However, it is also important to recognise that work stress can escalate into depression if left unchecked or not acted upon, and, if something else happens in a person’s life that they struggle to cope with, it can further aggravate an existing mental health issue. This can often make it hard to separate stress from depression. Whether problems at work per se can actually cause depression remains under debate, with some arguing that people either have to be predisposed to a mental illness or subject to major stresses in other areas of their life for depression to develop; however, what is undeniable is that work – where we spend so much of our time – is a key piece in the puzzle of our mental well-being.

Claire shares her experience of how work stresses were detrimental to her mental health:

“With help I achieved some of my dreams but, after suffering an accident in 2006, I had to completely rethink my career. This is why I ended up in a support position for the last three years. I was offered the opportunity for promotion to a management role in October 2018 and took this as I thought it was the next logical step. However, since Christmas my anxiety levels, mental health and emotions have taken a battering as I have found it increasingly difficult to cope on a daily basis. I find I am feeling sick, not eating properly, crying, being horrible at home and not enjoying holidays knowing that I have to go back to a job I am not cut out for. I do not feel I have the capability or confidence to move the role forward. I am sick of feeling stupid in front of others and always thinking I have something to prove to everyone else when really it should be about me. For this reason, I have today spoken with my manager and put the wheels in motion to make changes.”

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