Dealing with Depression in the Workplace

Depression is a very serious issue. More than 10 million people between the ages of 25 and 44 are affected by depression every single year, and many go untreated. What does this mean to you as a manager? It means that at any given time at least one out of every 20 team members you employ may be depressed.

It’s true that some people get “the blues” from time to time but most of them are able to shake their blues off in a day or so. Those who are truly depressed can’t just “shake it off” the way other can. They can’t control the aches in their bodies, the way they are thinking, or the way they act. Before you know it, depression is affecting your employee’s judgement, productivity, and ability to socialize with other team members or clients.

The first thing you need to do is learn to recognize and identify the symptoms of depression. Some of the most common include:

  • Sad moods that seem to be persistent
  • A decreased energy level or overwhelming sense of fatigue
  • Sudden changes in eating habits
  • Excessively crying throughout the day
  • Trouble concentrating or making clear decisions
  • An irritated attitude
  • Complaints about lack of sleep
  • A sudden change in morale
  • Sudden absenteeism
  • Increased accidents in the workplace

As a manager, you have to take some sort of action if you identify an employee as becoming depressed. Here are a few things you must remember:

  • You aren’t a doctor and you can’t diagnose depression.
  • Objectively let your employee know you’ve noticed change and let him know that your organisation has resources available if he needs help
  • Learn about depression so you can understand how it impacts life and the workplace
  • Hold frequent coaching sessions to try to keep your employee’s performance goals on track

These are just a few of the things you can do if you begin to notice depression in the workplace. First and foremost is the need to make sure your employee gets the help he deserves. In the end, he’ll be glad you reached out to help.

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 16 December, 2009

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