The end of the year is always a time most people look forward to – fun, Christmas with family, time off work and a chance to get away for a holiday. It should be a time when the pressure is off and we can relax.
But sadly this is not always the case for everyone, and in fact the Christmas-New Year period can be a very sad time for some and a time when people feel depressed.
Why? Because it can be a time when people remember a loved one no longer with them, it can be a reminder that this should be fun but it is not. We are sold a “happy” time but how do you feel happy when your life feels miserable? Maybe business this year has been bad. Or maybe one of your family or friends is depressed. Sometimes there are associated problems – anxiety and substance abuse.
About depression and its impact at work
Depression is a big issue and we need to understand its impact on work.
- One in five people will suffer from depression at some stage in their lives.
- People suffering from depression may take three or four days off work per month.
- It can affect people’s work performance, and there’s a greater chance of industrial accidents.
Be aware of some of the symptoms
Sometimes a stressful incident will trigger depression, but there may be no obvious reasons at all. Depression is experienced differently from person to person but is often accompanied by persistent feelings of unhappiness, ongoing crying or complaining to others, feeling sad and empty, and a loss of interest in life. There may be appetite or weight changes, lacking energy, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, feeling worthless and that life is not worth living. People who worry a lot, are sensitive to criticism, and tend to be very self-critical may be more prone to depression.
What can you do?
It’s a break time, and a new year is approaching – do something to help yourself .The best thing to do is seek professional help. Find someone you respect and feels right. You may not necessarily like the first person you see. Try someone else. Drugs may work but there are many non-drug strategies that have been very effective.
Ask for advice. Walk more! Do more activities and exercise. Minimise stress, take up yoga or meditation. Read some books and spend time with friends. A little time off work might help, but staying at work can provide direction and bring a person back out of depression. That’s why the holiday period can be so challenging.
If someone close to you is depressed, talk to them. Be caring and sensitive. It can really help. Say you’ve noticed they’re quiet or withdrawn. Ask what they are doing over the break. Will they be alone? Can you offer something? Don’t give up on someone with depression. Make sure they get help. It is a time when friends and colleagues can make a real difference.
Organisations like beyondblue can put you in touch with professionals who can help if you are experiencing depression.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.