The Silent Struggle of Coping with Depression at Work

April 15, 2024 Dawn Gressard

Coping with depression at work isn't easy. I currently work full-time from home. Like many others, I spend more time in front of the computer and on the phone with strangers than with loved ones. Once I clock out, I am so drained that I don't want to talk to anyone. My social battery is empty. Yet, the next day, I put on that smiling face and log back in to start the cycle again. Working takes up so much of my time and energy that there have been many times when working triggered a depressive episode. Or, if I was already depressed, work made my sadness even worse without specific ways to cope with depression at work.

Tips for Coping with Depression at Work

So, how can we cope with depression and still be productive at work? There are a few things that I have found that have helped lessen the dark cloud of depression while I am working. Granted, these are not always foolproof, but using these tips, I have found it easier to cope with having to get up every day and put on a smiling face.

  • Use your paid time off (PTO). First and foremost, PTO is given to most full-time employees for a reason. Yes, it is used for summer or holiday vacations, but it is also used for sick days. Sick days no longer mean only being physically ill; this is now for employees also to take mental health days. A mental health day does not show weakness or lack of commitment to the job. What it does show is a commitment to your wellbeing. 
  • Take several small breaks. Granted, I understand that not all jobs allow several five-minute breaks during the day. However, even if it is to take the garbage outside or to go the restroom, small breaks allow you to breathe and refocus your brain on the task at hand. It is also helpful to do some stretching when you have some downtime. 
  • Take your lunch break away from your desk or station. I know, I know, I'm guilty of it, too. I can't tell you how often I have sat at my desk, working and eating simultaneously. Not only does this not allow you to give your brain a break, but it also doesn't allow you to relax and enjoy what you're eating. Everyone needs that time away from what they are working on to refocus. Some suggestions are to go outside, sit in your car, go to the breakroom, or go to a different quiet room. 
  • Do not ignore the issue. Last but certainly not least, do not ignore your depression or try to convince yourself that you can push through it each day. These actions make things worse, possibly to the point of leaving your employment or being let go from your job. Which then creates a whole new set of triggers. 

It is difficult for me to focus or even be motivated when depressed. This is especially so when I am coping with depression at work. I have also found that working from home doesn't always help the situation. However, because I cannot change that part of my job at the moment, I need to use the tips above to keep being productive while at work and depressed. Those tips also help reduce the chances of getting burned out and depressed because of my employment. Either way, self-care and wellbeing at work are as meaningful as outside work.

I'm always looking for new ways to cope with my depression at work; I welcome any suggestions in the comment section below. 

APA Reference
Gressard, D. (2024, April 15). The Silent Struggle of Coping with Depression at Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 28 from

Author: Dawn Gressard

Dawn Gressard is a freelance Veterans Affairs benefits, mental health wellness, and suicide prevention writer and a trainer of a peer-supported suicide prevention and crisis intervention program. Find Dawn on X, Instagram, LinkedIn, and her personal blog.

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