Depression as a Working Diagnosis

August 3, 2011 Amy Kiel

I use this term, working diagnosis, to share with you what it is like for me to face work life with a long-term diagnosis of major depressive disorder. I discussed in a post recently, Depression Disclosure, the topic of sharing your diagnosis in a public way and in your work environment. Specifically, while you are in pursuit of work, it can be a frightful experience to know that issues like these could effect your ability to obtain employment.tugofwar

Because I share my diagnosis of major depressive disorder and long-term experience with depression in a public way by blogging and utilizing other forms of social media, there is simply no hiding the fact that this is a part of my life. In today's world, your prospective employers "google" you, read your tweets and facebook status updates when they are considering you as a potential employee, and I was well aware of this when I began my search.

Not all people have been as fortunate as I have, many have shared their experience with me of discrimination and stigma, as well as other negative effects of sharing their mental health diagnosis publicly. I am here to tell you that there is a flip-side, a positive side, where one can be accepted and valued even with the challenges of a mental health issue. It is possible, although admittedly not all too prevalent.

Working with Your Depression

The words "working diagnosis" have some other meanings to me as well. Not only am I finding I am able to work while being diagnosed with major depressive disorder, but I am also able to work with the diagnosis itself. I work with it in new ways all of the time. I work with the way I understand it's impact on my life, as a mother, employee, friend and in intimate relationships. I work with the way it will continue to impact my life and how I can live better, stronger and more fully. I see the negative impacts it can have and I see the positive impacts of being flexible, kind to myself and understanding of my limitations. I also work with the relatively new concept, to me, that I can have a future of limitless potential even if I carry with me this depression diagnosis.

My Working Relationship with Major Depression

It's a working relationship that we have, depression and I. We are more cohesive now, it's less of a battle. Instead of a constant tug of war, when it seems to pull me one way, I can lean into it a little, gather my strength and then work my way back the other direction. I don't have to pull and fight constantly. I can live more gently and, more often than not, take depression in the direction I want to go. When it takes me by surprise or has a negative impact, I can accept it, see it for what it is, and then learn my way back, working with it to understand myself better and become stronger than before.

I am so grateful that my new place of employment found that even with my challenges and my passion to share the experience of living with an illness such as depression, I am of value to them. The truth is, each of us is just as valuable as another, whether we are working with depression or in the midst of the hard fight. We may be at varied levels of ability to work professionally, but there is always the ability to work with depression.

APA Reference
Kiel, A. (2011, August 3). Depression as a Working Diagnosis, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Amy Kiel

September, 15 2013 at 6:04 am

I have to agree with Heather. I do not disclose my mental health issues with my employer. I have found people who have not experienced this type of problem, just don't get it. I am lucky that the employee health people keep this information confidential, so when I did have to go out for treatment, I did not have to go into why.
I have had bad experiences with people outside of my own immediate family, just not getting, why someone is depressed.

October, 1 2011 at 4:17 pm

As someone who also has recovered from major depression, I have refused to tell my boss or work mates about it. I have been alienated in the past by telling people about it and then having it used against me.

Dr Musli Ferati
August, 26 2011 at 6:50 pm

Your retrospection on depression as serious mental disorder revives to me the concept of "active dealing" with this devastate morbid entity. As it is known, depression is long-term lasting diagnostic and therapeutic undertaking, both for professional psychiatric staff and for depressive ill patient. Shortly, it is an ill fortune for respective depressive patient, that should manage in adequate manner. Otherwise, we would confront with many difficult consequences to our global well-being in daily life. Active approaching is the best way to beat this complex psycho-somatic disorder. Your experience in this direction is useful example, that should exploit as guideline for current treatment of depression. Working affinities are endless concept, because there isn't any illness that loss definitively the ability to work anything. Every engagement, ever so little, helps us to overcome hard form of depressive illness, even it is major depression.

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