Depression is a word that gets tossed around a lot and can sometimes be misconstrued by others as laziness. It's a term that is used interchangeably with down, blue, or bad mood. But real depression is a clinical condition that is much more serious than temporary unhappiness. It's a clinical condition that affects millions, and requires medical intervention, including medication and therapy.
Sufferers of depression have great difficulty getting things done. Having a cast on your leg makes it hard to get up and down stairs. Depression makes the tasks of the day as challenging as negotiating stairs with crutches. According to the National Institutes of Health, "even minor levels of depression are associated with a loss of productivity."
Depressives can't take sick time as if they have the flu, or are recovering from surgery. They have to soldier on through the discomfort and actual pain of their disorder. This isn't something they do on purpose to get out of work. It's not something they can "snap out of" or "get over." "While individuals do have control over seeking treatment and following a treatment plan, they don’t have control over getting the disorder."
Motivation, concentration and recall are diminished. Like swimming through molasses, completing anything takes enormous effort. Just making a simple decision is a huge accomplishment.
Choosing to get treatment is the best thing a depressed person can do. Finding ways to get things done no matter how you're feeling does two things; it gives you a sense of accomplishment, and gives you a sense of control over your own life.
There are strategies for getting things done when you're depressed.
- Exercise. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but even a walk around the block can release endorphins, hormones that elevate mood and reduce pain.
- Make a habit. Like brushing your teeth or putting in your contacts, actions become habits. Finishing things is a good habit to cultivate. Structure a goal and start small; break tasks down into manageable pieces; tackle one at a time. Build on the feeling of accomplishment of each completed segment.
- Ask for help. You don't have to do this alone. Aside from your doctor or therapist, people are willing to help if they know you need it. Family, friends, support groups, and others who care about you want to see you get better. Telling them when depression flares will also help them understand better what you are dealing with. Most supervisors or employers appreciate knowing that you are concerned about performing.
If interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral or Mental Health sections of our blog. And if interested, in working with others facing emotional or developmental challenges, we can help find the right position for you.
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