How to Manage Depression in the Workplace

Business & Career

Sep 30

How to Manage Depression in the WorkplaceWhat to do when depression takes its toll at work. 

Everyone experiences personal difficulty at some point in our lives, and those difficulties can often take a toll on our performance in the workplace.

When those difficulties are caused by a long-term mental health issue like depression, it can feel like a herculean task to manage the simplest daily tasks, let alone putting in a good effort at work.

Sadly, statistics show that many of us will deal with depression or anxiety at some point in our lives.

In the UK, approximately 1 in 4 adults suffer from a mental health issue every year, while 1 in 6 experience a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) every week.

While some bouts of depression are temporary, most people diagnosed with depression will continue to struggle with it for the rest of their lives. That makes management and sustainable self-care a tremendously important part of treatment.

If you are struggling to deal with an issue like depression and anxiety, you don’t want to be worrying about the impact it will have on your career. 

So what can you do?

The tips below are aimed at helping minimise the impact of depression and anxiety on workplace performance. Please consult your GP or someone you trust if you think you might be suffering from an undiagnosed mental health issue.

1. Don’t underestimate the importance of exercise and nutrition.

According to the NHS, a healthy diet may play as important a part in maintaining mental health as physical health, and research suggests that exercise “may be as effective as antidepressants at reducing symptoms of depression.”

To keep from feeling overwhelmed, start by making small changes, setting yourself small goals and celebrating when you achieve them. Cut out junk foods, and go for a daily walk. 

manage depression in workplace

You can work your way up from there, the important thing is just to get started! 

2. Try mindfulness.

In recent years, mindfulness has gained a lot of popularity as a tool for dealing with stress and anxiety, and for good reason—it’s easy, it’s accessible to everyone, and it works. 

manage depression in the workplace mindfulness

Mindfulness comes in many forms, but one of the most popular is meditation. Consider trying an online tool or app like Headspace or Calm for easy-to-follow guided meditations. Five minutes a day can have a tremendous impact on your ability to quiet your mind and feel at peace in the moment.

The NHS also offers some free resources for mindfulness, as does the mental health charity Mind. Check their websites for more information: and

3. Use your vacation days.

When was the last time you used a vacation day to actually relax?

If it’s been so long you can’t remember, consider giving yourself a break and taking a day or two off to take care of YOU. Do the things that bring you comfort and joy—take a hot bath, listen to music, read a book in the park, whatever makes you feel good.

manage depression in the workplace relax

A word of warning: for some, taking prolonged time off work can make depression worse. If you are struggling to get out of bed in the morning, taking time off may not be the best approach.

4. Embrace routine.

Sometimes the only way to get through a dark time is by putting one step in front of another through each day. Having a routine to fall back on can be a tremendous support. 

When you don’t feel up for doing ANYTHING, you need to keep yourself moving. You will feel better eventually. Contrary to what depression makes you feel, it won’t last forever. The important thing is to keep moving.

5. Try art therapy.

For people struggling with a brain that won’t let them relax, the repetitive low-level concentration required for art can be incredibly beneficial.

“Taking up a hobby and engaging in projects can help establish a clear mind and help those who are struggling to find a balance in their lives,” says Lisa Lannon, co-founder of the Warriors Heart organisation. “It’s a tactic that is manageable and for all different skill levels/types.”

manage depression in the workplace art

Lisa suggests taking up projects like art, cooking, photography or music.

“These outlets can help individuals temporarily forget depression/anxiety disorders and focus on positive and encouraging facets in their lives. In a way, these projects function as a sort of meditation exercise to help establish positive routines.”

6. Above all: GET SUPPORT.

You can’t do this alone, and though reaching out for help is one of the most difficult things to do when you are battling a voice in your head that’s telling you that you’re worthless, that voice is LYING and you deserve help when you need it.

Visit Mind or the NHS for more information on what services are available to you.

manage depression in workplace get support


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