Depression is a mental illness characterized by feelings of profound sadness and lack of interest in enjoyable activities. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. Depression is not the same as a blue mood, nor is it a personal weakness; it is a major, but treatable illness. Depression can last for weeks, months, or years. People with depression may recover without treatment. However, the longer depression lasts and the more times it recurs, the more likely it is that treatment will prove necessary.
The precise cause of depression is not known. Causes may be genetic, emotional, physical, or environmental, including:
Symptoms of depression are highly variable from person to person. Some people have only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms may also vary over time. In the workplace, symptoms of depression often may be recognized by:
Treatment of depression usually includes medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the 2. The medications help relieve symptoms, while psychotherapy helps employees learn more effective ways of dealing with problems or identifying and resolving the conflicts contributing to their depression.
Clinical depression can be treated successfully. The key to recovery is that symptoms are recognized early and that employees get the treatment they need. Many companies are helping their employees with depression by providing training on depressive illnesses for supervisors, access to employee assistance programs (EAPs), and access to occupational health personnel. Such efforts may contribute to significant reductions in lost time and job-related accidents as well as marked increases in productivity.
Here is what you can do:
Successful treatment of depression enables people with the disease to return to satisfactory, functioning lives, and nearly everyone who undergoes treatment gets some degree of relief. With early recognition, intervention, and support, most employees can overcome their depression and pick up their lives and careers where they left off.
National Institute of Mental Health
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 11, 2015. Accessed July 1, 2015.
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml#pub5. Accessed July 1, 2015.
Depression in the workplace. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-workplace. Accessed July 1, 2015.
Depression in the workplace. University of Michigan Depression Center. Available at: http://www.depressioncenter.org/understanding/workplace.asp. Accessed July 1, 2015.
What is depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml. Accessed July 1, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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