Depression as Disability

Depression and anxiety are closing in on back ailments as the top reasons for people missing work. What's the reason for the increase in emotional and psychological stress? It's not all that difficult to understand if you take a look at what's going on in the world of work these days. Corporate downsizing, outsourcing, and budget tightening all contribute to stress in the workplace, and the situation doesn't show signs of improving anytime soon.

Trying to Cope

You may notice that just getting to work — with all that entails — may have taxed you to the max. Then, you're expected to work, once you've made it to your cubicle, desk, or whatever. Practically speaking, however, you're exhausted. And when you gather your energy to plunge into your day, you may find that:

  • You can't concentrate.

  • You can't keep track of what you've done or remember important details.

  • You're messing up. You're making mistakes that you don't usually make.

  • You aren't operating at your usual pace. You're slow.

  • You forget to show up at important meetings.

  • You're short-tempered. People are starting to give you a wide berth.

Eventually, your co-workers may confront you, or worse, they may talk to your supervisor behind your back. Before this happens, however, you may decide you need to get medical help and talk to your boss or to someone else you trust at work.

Fact

Having a job can cause depressive symptoms, and losing a job can cause them as well. Work, whether coming or going, is a major source of stress and can lead to depression.

Some Real Concerns

How secure is your job? If you've been recently hired, you may not feel on solid enough ground to tell your employer about your medical condition. If your depression will adversely impact the organization — if there are safety issues involved — you may have a moral and ethical responsibility to divulge it. You worry that you'll be let go, or that the stigma of depression will taint all your work relationships. Or perhaps there's someone who's just waiting for a sign of weakness on your part to make a move to get your job. All of these concerns are valid. There are ways, however, of dealing with all of them.

Essential

If you're job hunting and suffer from depression or another disability, the time to disclose your condition is after you've been offered the job and have accepted it. If you can perform the duties required of you, with or without reasonable accommodation, you cannot be fired because of that disability.

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