According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 people will suffer from depression this year. A recent survey performed by Employers Health Coalition revealed what you may already know: depression makes it hard to work.
Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 23 percent had been diagnosed with depression. Of those, 39 percent took time off from work, citing symptoms such as low mood/sadness, loss of interest in daily activities and cognitive problems.
The majority of people said that having difficulty concentrating and being indecisive and/or forgetful were the biggest obstacles to doing their job. These challenges were associated with presenteeism (being at work but not fully engaged or productive) or an average of 10 days of absenteeism.
Depression, of course, doesn’t just affect your work life. It is a serious illness caused by biochemical, environmental and genetic issues, and can affect all aspects of your life. Depression is not due to personal weakness or failure; it is a real condition, just like many other medical problems, and it can be treated. However, the long-held belief that depressed people “should snap out of it” has created a stigma that continues to live on. The majority of people with depression included in the survey said they had not told their employer about their illness for fear their job might be put at risk. Yet employers are keenly aware of the prevalence of depression since they spend $100 billion a year on depression-related medical costs and in lost productivity.
Breaking the Cycle
Depression can drain your energy, hope and drive, making it especially hard to do the things that will help you to feel better. The key to recovery is to start with small steps and build from there. Ask for help from your support network, including your healthcare provider, and try to remember that it will be difficult, but not impossible.
The symptoms of depression usually include sleep disturbances, aches and pains, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, and over- or under-eating. Sometimes these symptoms are short-lived (during periods of high-stress), but can also mount overtime. If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, consider these ways to break the cycle:
- Build supportive relationships with people you trust to be good listeners and who are positive. They don’t have to “fix” you, but can provide help and support.
- Participate in social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Join a depression support group, help others by volunteering, sign up for a class, schedule regular lunch dates.
- Take care of yourself by aiming for 8 hours of sleep, practicing relaxation techniques to keep stress in check, and doing things you enjoy (or used to). Light therapy can help people who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) triggered by reduced daylight on short winter days.
- Get regular exercise. Scientists believe that exercise triggers new cell growth in the brain, reduces stress/muscle tension, and increases mood-enhancing endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes a day by walking, practicing yoga or tai chi, or challenging a friend to a tennis match, etc. Taking the stairs rather than the elevator counts too.
- Eat a mood-boosting diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables. Eat every 3-4 hours to avoid getting tired or irritable, and skip sugary foods that cause mood crashes.
- Avoid alcohol. It may initially make you feel better but it is a depressant and can worsen your symptoms.
- Think about whether making any workplace changes would be beneficial since job dissatisfaction is a leading cause of depression. Discussing difficult situations with your boss may improve things or help you realize that it is time to look for new opportunities. Making a change can be hard, but might also be the best solution.
- Consider asking your provider about anti-depressant medications, which can make a world of difference and may only be needed for a short time. Medications are often suggested in tandem with therapy. A social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist can provide insight on ways to handle life’s challenges and problems so you can get back to your normal self.
- Contact KnovaSolutions for support. We are good listeners and can help you figure out what actions to take. Call us at 800/355-0885.
What You Eat Affects Your Energy Level and Mood
- Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, trans/saturated fats can adversely affect your brain and mood.
- Simple carbohydrates include baked goods, pasta and French fries. After the “feel good” wears off, your mood and energy levels crash. Complex carbs such as oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and whole grain breads can raise serotonin levels so your mood stays steady or improves.
- Certain foods have super powers. Bananas contain magnesium (associated with reducing anxiety), brown rice increases serotonin/thiamine (to support sociability), and spinach contains folate (to reduce agitation and improve sleep).
- Omega 3 fatty acids boost your mood. Eating 1-2 servings a week of salmon, herring, anchovies or sardines is considered beneficial and do not overexpose you to mercury.
- Stay hydrated. Irritability is the first sign of dehydration so drink plenty of water.
Small Steps to Recovery
The key to recovering from depression is to start small and build from there, keeping in mind that it will be difficult, but not impossible.
Depression is miserable for those who experience it, but it can be treated successfully. Let KnovaSolutions help you get on to the rest of your life.
The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.
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