Feeling blue? A guide to depression

Zorianna Hyworon, president of Winnipeg-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) company Info-Tech Inc., suggests that employees receive “depression training” that will teach them to recognize the signs and also share tips on how to stay healthy and manage stress better. “People can be coached to handle their limitations at work,” she said.

Sometimes, depression is unavoidable. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) says that depression most affects people in their working years: those between 24 and 44 years old. Sixty-two per cent of the Ipsos-Reid survey respondents attributed their depression to stress, and another two per cent said that their depression stemmed from a detrimental work environment, or abusive coworkers.

The good news? Four out of five sufferers can be successfully treated, according to the CMHA. But it’s important to be able to identify the warning signs in your coworkers, or yourself. If you let them slide, that depression will lead to decreased productivity and increased sick days, which hurts not only the sufferer, but everyone else, too.

There are several personal signs to be aware of, including irritability, withdrawal from (or extreme dependence on) others, a sense of hopelessness, slowness of speech, and chronic fatigue.

If these symptoms only show up at certain times of the year — usually winter — it might indicate seasonal affective disorder, a mood disorder that can bring non-depressed people down during specific time periods.

There are also workplace-specific signs as well, such as:

– Difficulty in making decisions
– Decreased productivity
– Inability to concentrate
– Decline in dependability
– Unusual increase in errors in work
– Being prone to accidents
– Frequent tardiness, increased “sick” days
– Lack of enthusiasm for work

If you have been experiencing more than a few of these symptoms over the course of several weeks — or have noticed a coworker displaying these signs — you should seek help, or ask your coworker to seek help, for what could be a case of clinical depression or seasonal affective disorder. A health professional or your employee assistance program is a good place to start.

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