Severely Depressed? How to Stay Productive at Work

October 16, 2019 Mahevash Shaikh

When one is severely depressed, work is usually the last thing on one's mind. In fact, many people, including me, have to battle active suicidal ideation and struggle to get out of bed each day. Unfortunately, work doesn't stop just because you are not in the right state of mind to do it. If you are one of the lucky few who can take time off from work, go ahead and do it right away. But if your workplace or job does not allow for you to take a break, here is how you can stay productive even when you are severely depressed.

Tips for Working Despite Feeling Severely Depressed

The first thing you need to deal with is the apathy that comes with depression. Instead of trying to get yourself to care about your work, which is a lost cause, give yourself something to look forward to once you finish your work. Now of course, severe depression and depression, in general, rob you of the pleasure and joy that come naturally when you do something you enjoy. But even a depressed person cannot deny the comfort of say, a depression nap. So even though you may not care about your work and have little to no motivation to do it, dangle something irresistible in front of yourself, and you will somehow get your work done. It might not be your best work yet, but it will be decent enough to check it off your list.

The above method generally works for me, but there are times when it doesn't. When that happens, I use the worst-case scenario method to push myself to work. The question I ask myself is this: what is the worst that will happen if I don't do this work right now? Almost instantly, my mind goes to the darkest places and I picture losing a client, being abandoned by my readers, and so on. As they say, fear is a powerful motivator and, indeed, fear is what propels me to get the job done immediately. 

A Word of Caution

There may be occasions when your depression is so severe that you are basically paralyzed and cannot function at all. When you are in such a state, put your mental health first and get the help you need to recover. If taking care of yourself means losing your job or client, then so be it. What is the point of having a job or a career if you are not even alive in the first place? You can always go on unemployment until your next job or client. Who knows, maybe next time you will be lucky enough to work with someone who understands the importance of mental health.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2019, October 16). Severely Depressed? How to Stay Productive at Work, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

Lizanne Corbit
October, 22 2019 at 3:31 pm

Having depression, and having to face the workday can pose its own unique challenges. I think this is something that more people deal with than many realize and it's comforting, and helpful to come across reads like these. I think your suggestion for finding something to look forward to is a wonderful gentle nudge that can be helpful without feeling like too much.

October, 23 2019 at 12:49 am

Hi Lizanne,
I agree, most people aren't aware of their struggle, which is exactly why we need more mental health awareness.
I am glad you think so and hope this piece helps everyone who is struggling with depression at work.

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