Denver counselor, coach, and therapist Gideon Killion shares some thoughts on the cost of undiagnosed depression.
Are you struggling to stay motivated at work? Have you been feeling physically or mentally tired or had difficulty concentrating? Do you have trouble making decisions or keeping track of important information at your job?
Career difficulties can arise for both external and internal reasons, but it’s important to ask yourself whether a psychological condition like depression could be the root cause.
If so, you’re not alone. The American Psychological Association estimates that based on 2013 data, up to 9% of adult men experience feelings of depression or anxiety on a daily basis. But depression and other mood disorders can be tricky to identify correctly on your own, given that men’s depression symptoms may not always include the “classic” elements such as sadness. Sometimes depression symptoms may also show up as physical indicators, such as digestive changes or simply feeling more tired than usual.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression in men can include some (but not necessarily all) of the following symptoms:
- Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, or anxiety
- Unusual anger or irritability
- Fatigue, either physical or mental
- Difficulty focusing on work or trouble with short-term memory
- Changes in sleep patterns or appetite
- Physical pain, including headaches, digestive issues, or cramps
- Reduced interest in activities that used to be pleasurable, including family life, hobbies, and sex
- Difficulty functioning in everyday life, both at work and at home
Here are some of the ways that chronic depressed mood could negatively affect your day-to-day effectiveness at work and even have long-term consequences for your career.
Impact on Productivity
No one is at their best professionally when they’re struggling with depression. A chronically depressed mood makes it difficult to concentrate on detail work or keep track of important data. It can also lead to problems with time management, thanks to depression’s way of dulling your ability to make executive decisions and stay focused on one activity at a time. In a chaotic work environment with many interruptions, the irritability associated with depression may make it difficult to avoid blowing up at others.
No Motivation to Move Ahead
If you’re barely mustering the energy to show up on time and put one foot in front of he other, it makes sense that depression can put the brakes on a promising career. One of the hallmarks of major depressive disorder is the loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. When depression has sapped you of motivation to take on new responsibilities and seek opportunities to be promoted, it’s unlikely that you will move beyond your current rung on the career ladder. And the mental or even physical fatigue that comes with chronic depression can make small challenges seem insurmountable.
Cumulative Effects on Work Relationships
Depression can intensify some of the challenges of day-to-day work, such difficulty coping with tense co-worker dynamics or unexpected policy changes. Men who are depressed often find themselves withdrawing from peer interactions at work, leading them to feel increasingly more isolated.
Telling your boss—or not—is another challenge of depression in the workplace. It may feel good to be honest about your struggles and ask for specific accommodations, or you may be afraid to disclose this information to management.
Regardless of whether you decide to let your supervisor or co-workers know how being depressed has affected you at work, it can be helpful to connect with others outside the workplace who understand the struggle of coping with a mood disorder. Here in the Denver area, there are several Meetup.com groups focused on depression, including one called Freedom From Anxiety and Depression. There are also several structured support groups for people with depression in the Denver metro area; for details, see NAMI Colorado.
Sometimes chronic or severe symptoms of depression can require professional help in order to improve. If you need help with resources for counseling in Denver or specific ways to cope with depression, give me a call at (303) 952-0168, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use my contact form.