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Workplace Depression: What Every Employer Must Understand

5 min read
Last Updated on 17 May, 2024

The health of your organization is always a fragile matter. Employee health of a company influences operational efficiency and success to a huge extent. Therefore, it is imperative for employers to handle this aspect with maximum care and attention. Be it physical or mental health.

While the first is easy to spot, the latter isn’t. When it comes to mental health, most employers are oblivious to its negative effects. This neglect has given rise to many mental illnesses, one being workplace depression.

Depression is a mental health issue wherein someone is suffering from the following symptoms for more than two weeks. These are feelings of

  • Sadness
  • Lack of interest in activities that previously brought pleasure
  • Lack of focus
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Guilt,
  • Thoughts of self-harm, etc.

Depression can happen to anyone and may dawn upon anytime.

This is soon becoming common and costing a whole lot to companies. A WHO survey found that US$1 Trillion is lost every year in the productivity of the global economy due to depression and anxiety.

It is the silent killer of not only productivity and employee health but also your working environment. This is a problem that requires immediate attention to prevent it. As employers, you must keep a watchful eye out for this drastic mental health issue.

For doing this, you must understand these necessary and essential points regarding the matter.

Causes of Workplace Depression

There is no singular cause of depression, and it differs from person-to-person. Some of the most common causes of depression in the workplace are as follows.

  • Being in the wrong professional and cultural fit. It can be because an individual is unhappy with the work, position, company, etc
  • Feeling overburdened by work. This can arise when an employee neither likes nor can leave his/her position because of different obligations
  • The guilt of parenthood when an employee who is also a parent is not being able to give valuable time to the child
  • The financial problem relating to a low salary can budge an employee from time-to-time. In time, this feeling transforms into stress which can lead to depression
  • Unreasonable demands at the office for deadlines, rules, overtime, workplace stress, disconnect an employee from the outer world. This takes a toll on the freedom of the employee and may cause depression
  • Workplace bullying can also cause depression. The sense that an employee may feel of being insignificant at work has adverse effects on the mental health of an employee as well

These are some of the points leading to depression in the workplace. Now that we have the common causes cited out, here are the signs of how to spot this issue at work.

Signs of Workplace Depression

The following are some of the early signs or symptoms of depression at work.

  • Withdrawal of an employee from his/her peers is one of the first signs of impending depression. It can be the complete unwillingness to participate in any activities or engage with anyone at the office.
  • Employees with declining productivity and interest in office activities is also a sign of adverse mental health.
  • Expression of guilt and the constant feeling of hopelessness with any hurdle along the way.
  • Self-esteem taking a hit at work
  • Continually putting off work, irritable behavior, restlessness, frustration, and being cut out are few of the oldest signs of depression

These are a few of the signs that employees emit while fighting workplace depression. If you see such symptoms, you must take the following corrective measures immediately.

Corrective Measures for Workplace Depression

  • Once you see the signs mentioned above, you must address and act on it. You should talk with the individuals and find out for yourself what is bothering them. But, your job here is to listen and not diagnose. It is always better to offer them professional help.
  • Give them a time out from the office to tend to their mental health. Here, you must advise them to seek professional help at this time to help them recuperate.
    Once you see an employee battling depression, these are the first two steps you must take.

Being an employer here, the steps you can take here is limited. However, you can help these employees by guiding them and supporting them to get the required help.

As an employer, you must make sure that this professional help is available whenever necessary. Other than this, you must also make sure to prevent this issue at your workplace as well. You can start doing this by following these strategies from today onwards.

Strategies for Workplace Depression

1. Awareness

You must spread awareness of this problem in your office. Educate your staff on the matter and urge them to come forward for help. You can achieve this through seminars with health professionals at your office.

2. Resources

You should have proper resources lined up to fight workplace depression whenever it may arise. These can be depression screenings of your employees, telephonic help on demand when required, employee counseling, etc. These are a few of the resources you must have at the office.

3. Talking to your workforce

You should also talk to your employees from time-to-time. If you find employees suffering from depression, don't attempt to diagnose them, as said earlier. Just talk to them and see what’s bothering them. Be supportive and concerned without being judgmental.

4. Working Environment

Other than these, you should also invest in improving the working environment by making it calm and relaxing. A great idea here is to develop a workplace to be in terms of ecotherapy. This is because it can lift an individual’s mood and help alleviate stress.

A few suggestions here can be having plants around the office, an aquarium, full-spectrum light bulbs, personalized workspace, healthy snacks at work, walking track, etc.

5. Act Quickly

Last but not least, the most important strategy here is to act quickly. Whenever you see or suspect an individual battling a mental health condition, take action immediately. For that matter, be quick to adopt these strategies as preventive measures too.

These are the strategies that you must use against depression at work.


A study published in Mental Health America stated the following. Employee Assistance Professionals found that workplace depression is the third major cause of worry for employees. It ranks after family crisis and stress.

Depression is an issue and a growing one at that. Given the harsh implications that it has in the workplace, it must be dealt with swiftly. As employers, you must take care of this raging health issue, and your employees affected or vulnerable from it.

Take your necessary points from this piece of content and utilize them in your workplace. While this will take time, it is not unattainable. With time and effort, this silent killer of the work culture will perish with your help.

This article is written by Jyoti Prakash Barman. He is an in-house Content Marketer at Vantage Fit with interests in music and automobiles. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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