Managing Depression

Depression is a "whole body" illness involving mood, thought and body. It may affect appetite, sleep, feelings about self, and thinking ability. It may also affect relationships and performance at work. Clinical depression is more than the "blues" or the normal feelings we have around loss. In depression, symptoms are more intense, disabling, and lasting. The usual coping skills don't work.

Depression is not a personal weakness. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. The good news is that more than 80% of depressed people can be treated quickly and effectively. The key is to recognize the symptoms of depression early.

General Symptoms of Depression

  • Persistent sad or "empty" mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia, early-morning waking or oversleeping)
  • Eating disturbances (loss of appetite, weight gain or loss)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying

If five or more symptoms of depression persist for more than two weeks or interfering with work or family life, a thorough diagnosis is needed. Call FSAP @ x 48170 or 48099 for more information.

A Guide for Supervisors

As a supervisor, you may notice that some employees seem less productive and reliable-they may call in sick or arrive late, have more accidents, or just seem less interested in work. These individuals may be suffering from a clinical depression. While it is not your job to diagnose depression, your understanding may help the employee get the needed treatment.

Depression can affect your employees' productivity, judgment, ability to work with others, and overall job performance. The inability to concentrate fully or make decisions may lead to costly mistakes or accidents. In addition, it has been shown that depressed individuals have high rates of absenteeism and are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.

As a supervisor, you can help your employees by making appropriate treatment available. Such efforts can contribute to a significant reduction in lost time and job-related accidents, as well as marked increases in productivity. Symptoms in the workplace may be recognized by:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Morale problems
  • Lack of cooperation
  • Safety risks
  • Absenteeism
  • Frequent statements about being tired all the time
  • Complaints of unexplained aches and pains
  • Alcohol and drug abuse.


What You Can Do To Help a Depressed Employee

Enlightened employers are recognizing that it pays to help depressed employees. They have learned that untreated depression, and the abuse of alcohol or drugs which sometimes accompanies it, can become very expensive through lost productivity and accidents. Employers are developing programs to encourage workers to get the needed help. As a Supervisor, you are the first step.

  • Recognize changes in work performance
  • Do not "diagnose" depression yourself.
  • Recommend your employee seek professional consultation from a mental health professional or FSAP
  • Review University policy on persons with disabilities
  • Learn about depression and the sources of help
  • Keep information confidential

Source: This information is from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)