Recognizing Depression and Anxiety



  • Today’s workplace, with technology, fast-paced growth and decreased resources, can contribute to increased stress
  • Mental wellbeing impacts engagement and productivity at work
  • Mental health of employees are top assets and should be protected
  • It’s time for workplace to shine light on common disorders that often go undiagnosed and unmentioned
  • As two of the most prevalent disorders, depression and anxiety directly affects the work place with both social and economic costs
  • About 30% of people are affected by depression and women are more likely to experience depression than men
  • Overall, World health Organization (WHO) estimates around 264 million people live with depression and many of those people suffer from anxiety symptoms as well
  • Depression in the workplace can be invisible and go undetected
  • Many members of staff having mental health issues have a fear of sharing their disorder with anyone at work because
  1. they are afraid of being stigmatized,
  2. labeled weak,
  3. that it could affect opportunities for promotion and
  4. that it may be put in their files
  • However there are noticeable signs that could initiate a conversation
  • It is very important to recognize depression and anxiety disorder and promptly link with help so that productivity will not be affected


  • State of intense feeling of sadness, hopelessness, despair, loss of interest, low energy.
  • Has considerable social impact on relationship, families and productivity
  • Not simply low mood or sign of personal weakness.
  • More than just feeling sad
  • Can be safely and effectively treated.
  • Characterized by physical and psychological symptoms
  • People often fail to recognize the symptoms of depression in themselves or people they care about.
  • To people with depression,
  1. The world is dark, heavy, so many things about life are difficult; they feel numb.
  2. Things usually taken for granted -a good night sleep, having goals, now seem beyond reach
  3. People who love him/her are looking for some emotional response from him/her but none is available to be given.


Symptoms needed to meet criteria for depressive episode

  • Symptoms duration of 2 weeks.
  • Symptoms of shorter duration but unusually very severe.
  1. -Depressed mood

-Loss of interest and enjoyment

-Reduced energy and decreased activity

  1. -Reduced concentration

-Reduced self-esteem and confidence

-Ideas of guilt and unworthiness

-Pessimistic thoughts

-Ideas of self-harm


  • Feeling empty
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Loss of warm feelings for family or friends
  • Crying spells
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, early morning waking, or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  1. In severe depression, someone could hear voices of unseen people (hallucinations)
  2. And it could be distressing


  • General slowing down
  • Neglect of responsibilities and appearance
  • Poor memory
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Difficulty making decisions


  • Genetics family aggregation, twin studies, adoption studies
  • Neurobiological decreased activity of specific neurotransmitters, abnormally low levels of serotonin and nor epinephrine some medical problems, such as under-functioning thyroid, chronic medical conditions e.g. stroke, diabetes or terminal illnesses such as cancer can cause depression
  • Environmental work related stress, traumatic childhood, e.g. parental loss and childhood abuse unemployment
  • Brown and Harris vulnerability factors having 4 or more children less than 14yrs, lack of confiding relationship and loss of mother before 10yrs of age, can be risk factors among others.
  • Major Life Changes
  1. Negative or particularly stressful events can trigger depression. Examples include the death of a loved one or a job change.

Professional Treatment is Helpful for Depression.


  • Psychotherapy can
  • Help them understand, accept and feel better about themselves.
  • Learn more effective ways of coping with life’s adversities and difficulties.
  • Minimize adverse life events, e.g. financial hardship, housing difficulties, work challenges etc.
  • Help people change negative thinking, behavior patterns and attitudes that affect self-esteem and overall sense of well-being.
  • Medication
  1. Antidepressants are drugs (most often for more severe cases) that can help ease the symptoms of depression and return a person to a better level of functioning.
  2. Antidepressants are not habit forming


  • Anxiety is found in normal people
  • Normal response to danger, stress or threat
  • Becomes abnormal when:
  • Out of proportion to the danger or
  • When it significantly outlasts the threat
  • Are abnormal states in which the most striking features are mental and physical symptoms of anxiety
  • Symptoms are persistent, pervasive, causing distress and disability
  • It can be Generalized anxiety disorder-continuous free-floating anxiety
  • Social phobia-Anxiety and fear of scrutiny by other people in comparatively small groups (as opposed to crowd)
  • Specific phobia- Inappropriate anxiety in the presence of a particular object or situation.
  • Panic disorder- Anxiety is intermittent but its occurrence is unrelated to any particular circumstances
  • Agoraphobia- Anxiety and fear not only of open spaces but also of related aspects such as the presence of crowds


  • Psychological (fearful anticipation, restlessness, worrying, poor concentration, irritability)
  • Autonomic
  • Gastrointestinal
  1. Dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing, Epigastric discomfort, Excessive wind, Frequent or loose motions
  • Respiratory
  1. Constriction in the chest
  2. Difficulty inhaling
  • Cardiovascular
  • Palpitations, Discomfort in the chest, Awareness of missed heartbeats
  • Genitourinary
  • Frequent or urgent urination, Failure of erection, Menstrual discomfort, Amenorrhea
  • Somatic (Tremor, Headache, Muscle pains),
  • Hyperventilation (Dizziness, Feeling of breathlessness, Tingling sensation)
  • Sleep disturbance (Insomnia, Night terror)


  • It makes job challenges more difficult to handle and at times keep employees from achieving their goals at work
  • A survey on anxiety in the work place found that people with anxiety listed difficulty with common-job-related situations like meeting deadlines, maintaining personal and professional relationships, participating in meetings, giving presentations, managing staff and dealing with problems that arise

If someone you know has symptoms of depression or anxiety… Take Action!

  • Enquire about how they are doing, try to be a listener
  • It depends on the situation but asking ‘what’s going on? Or what can I do to help’ can feel supportive to them
  • Create opportunities for confidential, non judgmental conversations
  • Link the person to a medical doctor for a complete check up.
  • Encourage to go to the wellness center and talk with a professional.


  • To manage mental well being we need to do the following:
  1. Normalize the conversation
  2. Implement Strong Policies and Procedures
  3. Prevention
  4. Encourage Self Care


  • Top-down support of mental health is crucial in creating an open dialogue
  • When Senior members of staff participate in the conversation about mental wellbeing, it encourages employees to seek help if it happens to them
  • Establishing mental health champions within an organization is another way to encourage a healthy dialogue


  • Having proper policies and procedures in place are important in removing barriers to disclosure
  • This includes protection against discrimination and stigmatization which is usually a top concern for employees
  • And ensuring maintenance of confidentiality when an employee discloses information
  • Also, workplace wellness programs will go a long way to help
  • Simply participating in a workplace wellness program topics like healthy eating, good sleep habits can benefit employees with mental health concerns
  • Employer can help employees access Employee assistance program(EAP) that provides counseling and referrals
  • EAPs is one of the most effective ways to support employees with depression or other mental health problems
  • Educational resources to address depression in the workplace will enlighten workers about how to recognize the symptoms and seek


  • It is essential to remember that anyone is susceptible to stress and a resulting decline in their mental health, whether a preexisting condition exists or not
  • Big life events like having a baby or losing a loved one and every day struggles like money worries, relationship issues or work-related stress can cause or aggravate mental health conditions to the point of interference with work
  • Everyone needs to be deliberate about care of his or her mental wellbeing


  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Eating Healthy
  • Drinking Water
  • Exercise
  • Develop appropriate time management and work/life balance skills
  • Delegating and collaborating are also key to ensuring healthy work behaviors which also decrease stress
  • While Technology and our always-on culture make it hard to disconnect, employees need to be encouraged to set device off-times so they can fully recharge before the next day.
  • And most importantly this behavior should be modeled to members of staff by limiting after hours work and emails
  • Be informed but avoid being obsessive about the news if you find yourself being overwhelmed you may need to step back.
  • You can set the time you check social media.
  • Focus on the things you have control over.
  • Make plans on the available not on the what ifs
  • Stay connected to people, this gives a sense of wellbeing
  • Take care of your physical health, exercise, rest and eat healthy food
  • Helping others makes you feel good


  • Depression and Anxiety are real and must not be ignored.
  • Prompt identification and presentation is important in managing them thereby improving productivity at work
  • If we can take care of our physical health, we should learn to care of our mental health also.
  • Give people permission to speak safely and be prepared to listen and link with help


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