Work and depression often don’t mix – it can be incredibly difficult to perform your best (or at all) at work while experiencing symptoms of depression. Find resources below for wherever you’re at- currently employed and trying to make it through, going through the job hunt while depressed, or unable work because of depression. Wherever you’re at, you are not alone.
Depression can make going to work feel nearly impossible, but there are some ways making things more manageable. Make sure to read up on various tips for working with depression, and know your rights as far as what protections you’re entitled to as an employee with depression.
Working while experiencing depression can feel next to impossible some days. Below are a few tips for navigating work while depressed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against job applicants and employees with disabilities. The law applies to private employers with 15+ employees and state and local government employers.
Though the ADA, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations at your workplace to help you perform your job duties (see “Know Your Rights as an Employee”). To request an accommodation:
Sometimes, you may need to take off multiple weeks in order to cope with depression.
If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against because of your depression, there are a number of actions you can take:
Being out of a job and living with depression is a really tough situation to be in. Congratulate yourself for taking steps to look for a job and know that you are more than your career. Below are a few tips for navigating the job search process while living with depression.
Not having scheduled time can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and disconnection. Try to create structure for yourself by setting office hours for searching for jobs and creating deadlines to work more efficiently. Make sure to give yourself frequent breaks to recharge, such as a walk outside or a call with a family member.
Research has shown that setting and reaching goals has a strong inverse relationship with depression. Set small, achievable goals, such as sending out X number of cover letters or even something unrelated, such as learning a new song on the piano. Small wins can make you feel much better about yourself.
It can be very tempting to stay in bed all day when you’re unemployed and depressed. After all, your former job was likely a large motivator in getting you out of bed each morning. Though you may not feel up for it, this could be a wonderful opportunity to learn a new hobby or volunteer at an organization you care about, in addition to your job search. Not only can you gain new skills and a greater sense of fulfillment, but staying busy can help ease some of your symptoms of depression as well.
Being out of work and clinically depressed can make the hard days seem impossible sometimes. Looking for a job requires stamina and energy, and a strong support network can help you so you don’t give up. Friends and family can also remind you that you are not alone throughout this process. Make sure you reach out to your support network a lot during the job search process.
Depression brain can make it so that your memory isn’t the most reliable. Try to stay organized by tracking information like place you’re considering applying, where you’ve applied, what the outcomes have been, etc. so that you don’t have to rely on your memory alone for all the information.
You are not required to disclose your mental illness(es) with prospective employers. The Americans with Disabilities Act considers clinical depression a protected disability, which means you can’t be discriminated against because of your depression.
In some instances, there may be periods of time when working becomes so difficult or treatment is so intense that maintaining employment isn’t possible. These times are incredibly difficult, but you can get through them. Reach out to friends, family and your care team for help, and look into the following national , which provide monthly income and health insurance for people who can’t work:
To qualify for SSDI you must have an impairment that prevents you from working for at least 12 months and you must have worked & paid into the Social Security program for a least 5 of the last 10 years. To apply, you can go in-person to any Social Security office or file an application online here.
Things to keep in mind:
To qualify for SSI benefits, you must have an impairment that prevents you from working on a regular basis. Additionally, you must have a very low income and less than $2000 in assets.
Things to keep in mind:
Experiencing depression while in college can be a scary and lonely experience. Many students are far away from their support networks and may feel stress from increased academic workloads. Find resources below for wherever you are in your college journey: making the transition to college if your depression is already known, managing depression in college, requesting accommodations from the school, or taking a leave of absence if things get really tough.
Transitioning from high school to college can be a big challenge, but especially for those of us living with depression. Having a plan in place for how to manage depression is an essential part of setting yourself up for success.
Research what mental health services (if any) are available to students. For those that offer services, some important questions to ask the counseling center include:
Make a plan that consists of the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, & Why
SOURCE: Mental Health America
You don’t have to deal with depression alone while in college. Staying connected to others can help you feel less isolated.
Support groups can be a great way to get support and meet new friends. Many college counseling centers offer support groups, and Mental Health America has a comprehensive listing of support groups you could attend. Mental health advocacy and awareness student clubs on campus can also be a great way to meet others struggling with depression and other mental illnesses. Active Minds is a popular student club that promotes mental health awareness on campuses.
SOURCE: Mental Health America
Keeping a short daily record of symptoms can help you see if symptoms are getting worse. College can be chaotic and can make it hard to notice changes in your habits (i.e. sleeping or eating patterns) and corresponding changes in mood. Don’t wait to seek help when/if your mood gets consistently worse. You can use a paper journal or notebook to track your mood, or apps such as Daylio or Moodily.
Make your life easier by using study groups, tutors, the campus writing center, and TAs in order to get the support you need in order to succeed in class. See if your college offers support with time management or study skills so you can study most effectively (Google “[Your School’s Name] + Academic Support Services” to see what they offer).
If you think you might need extra help from the school in order to do your best in classes, try to ask your school for accommodations ASAP before you face any serious challenges, if possible.
The accommodations you request depend on your specific needs and what your school is able to provide. The following list can give you ideas for what types of accommodations you can ask for:
To receive accommodations, you will need to :
After you request specific accommodations, the school may approve the request or offer an alternative accommodation if it makes more sense. Work together with your school to get the support you need. If an accommodation isn’t working for you, contact the disability office ASAP to try to find a better support.
Sometimes, depression can get so bad that taking a leave of absence from school is necessary in order to get treatment and address symptoms. If you’re considering taking a leave of absence, take the following into consideration:
Can a School Require Me to Take a Leave?
Short answer: yes. A college can ask you to leave if they can show that there’s a clear risk you might harm yourself or someone else. If you believe your school is mistaken, seek legal advice. You can also consider filing a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.