Psychologists and mental health practitioners have analyzed, refashioned and recreated American workers' collective psyche. Thanks to the development of many psychological therapies, even the most resistant mental illnesses have been isolated and treated. One of the most successful stories of therapeutic intervention has been the management and treatment of depression.
Much has changed in the treatment of depression since psychoanalysis became a household word just before the Great Depression (interesting phrase signifying a global funk or worldwide bad mood!). While the therapies have developed, changed and coalesced during the past century, the causes and symptoms of depression have not changed at all.
The classic list of symptoms indicating depression includes the following, when they last more than 2 weeks.
- Unrelenting sad, anxious or "empty" mood
- Sleeping too little, early morning awakening or sleeping too much
- Reduced appetite and/or weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Edginess and/or irritability
- Unyielding physical symptoms that don't respond to treatment (headaches, chronic pain or digestive disorders)
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Customary advice is to see your doctor if you experience five or more of these symptoms. Eighty percent of depressed people can be successfully treated and returned fully productive to their jobs. Depression is a chronic, progressive disease with many remissions. Without treatment, it will strike again and again, with a vengeance more powerful each time.
Depression ranks third in the hierarchy of workplace problems. It is overshadowed only by family crisis and stress. No two employees experience depression in the same way. Symptoms vary in severity and duration in different people. In the workplace, symptoms of depression may include the following.
- Decreased productivity
- Morale problems
- Lack of cooperation
- Safety risks and/or accidents
- Assertions about always being tired
- Complaints of unexplained aches and pains
- Alcohol and drug abuse
Many depressed workers suffer unnecessarily because they feel embarrassed, fear being identified as feeble or do not recognize depression as a treatable illness. Effective protocols for depression include medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. These treatments usually begin to relieve symptoms in a matter of weeks.