How to Handle Depression from Work If You Can’t Do Your Job

Depression from work can be difficult and can make it so you can’t do your job. Learn what contributes to job-related depression and what to do about it, on HealthyPlace.

If you’re experiencing depression from work, your symptoms might be joined by anxiety. If you can’t do your job, will you lose it? You might have mixed thoughts and feelings, too. It might be a relief to be fired from that job. But if you need the job, losing it could have dire consequences. Everything swirls together in a perfect storm that deepens depression. Understanding depression from work can help you know how to deal with it.

Causes and Effects of Depression from Work

When you can identify some of the reasons for work-related depression, you can address them and lessen their negative impact on your mental health. Some factors involved in having depression from work include:

  • A job that’s a poor fit for your interests and skills
  • A toxic environment with bosses and/or coworkers who bully you
  • Unreasonable demands, unclear guidance, and little support
  • Negativity and low morale
  • Poor communication among employees/employers
  • A workload that disrupts a healthy work-life balance and creates feelings of guilt for spending so much time away from your family
  • Low pay that keeps you struggling to make ends meet
  • Working for a company whose values don’t match yours, resulting in ethical dilemmas
  • Having no sense of meaning or fulfillment
  • Feeling that you have no power to change your situation

Job-related depression is hard to deal with. Often, people resort to unhelpful behaviors because they don’t know what else to do or because their depression is interfering with their ability to function. Chronic absenteeism or tardiness, isolating on the job and ignoring coworkers, and communicating in passive-aggressive ways all lead to more discord on the job and deeper depression.

Notice what you’re experiencing. If you find yourself increasingly suffering from work depression and acting in unhelpful ways, it might be time to change your situation.

If You Have Depression Related to Your Job, Should You Stay or Go?

Perhaps the most important guideline in deciding to leave your job because of depression is that there isn’t a correct answer, and “should” doesn’t apply. Everyone is a unique person, every workplace is different, and depression is an individualized illness. The best decision is the one that is right for you and your life.

In deciding whether to leave your job, reflect on all the ways your job contributes to depression as well as what has kept you there so far. Can you experience more of the things that keep you there? Can you make any changes to improve your situation?

Consider, too, how approachable your boss and coworkers are. Sometimes, having an open discussion about your depression can lead to positive changes and better understanding. Sadly, sometimes honest conversations about mental health make a problem worse because people don’t understand. Know your environment to decide if a conversation would help.

If you decide to leave and begin to look for another job, be gentle with yourself. Job hunting can be difficult and stressful. A job search can aggravate depression. The good news is that there are ways to handle depression from work or job hunting.

Handling Depression from Work

Depression can destroy self-esteem. When you can’t do your job or find work, you might have thoughts like these:

  • I’m worthless.
  • I can’t do anything right.
  • I’m not good enough to have a job.
  • No one respects me.
  • No one wants to work with me.
  • There’s something wrong with me.

Thoughts like these are known as irrational beliefs. They’re inaccurate and don’t represent who you are and what you do; however, depression makes you believe them. Working with a therapist who uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you change your negative self-talk, ease your depression, and believe in your ability to take charge of your situation. Therapy can also help you see your strengths and use them at work or to find a new job.

Among other things you can do to handle work-related depression:

  • Tend to your physical and mental health by eating nutritiously and exercising
  • Learn new job skills, including resume-building
  • Develop healthy outlets to release stress, like working out or getting creative
  • Develop a friendship with at least one coworker
  • Practice mindfulness by being present where you are now (be at work when you’re at work, and be at home when you’re at home)
  • Identify what bothers you the most right now, and take action to change it

Depression from work can be hard to handle. It can make it so you can’t do your job, which makes you feel worse. This can continue in a vicious cycle, but you can break it. While it’s true that depression makes it hard to make positive changes, it’s also true that when you start with one small action, you’ll gain momentum to lift your depression and change what needs to be changed at work.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2022, January 4). How to Handle Depression from Work If You Can’t Do Your Job, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

More Info