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Depression at work – identifying and managing employees

Depression is a serious mental health issue. It can affect anyone, at any time, and a third of workers in the UK suffer with depression, stress or anxiety. In 2017/18, this meant 15.4 million working days lost.

Employers have a duty of care to their staff. As such, organisations need to look out for signs of depression at work and know how to reach out to those affected. But it’s not easy — not everyone suffers in the same way.

What is depression?

Depression is not simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days — a basic definition would be that it is “feeling down persistently for weeks or months”. At its mildest, it makes everything more challenging to do and seem less worthwhile.

In its most severe form, it can make a person feel suicidal or, put another way, lose the will to live. As well as mild, moderate and severe depression, there are specific types, including seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and dysthymia (chronic depression).

Depression and anxiety can often be experienced together, and depression can be a symptom of other mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. People with severe depression can also experience some psychotic symptoms, eg delusions and hallucinations.


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