Depression at work – causes of depression and its symptoms - Helping Hand - Mental Health Programme

Depression at work – causes of depression and its symptoms

Human resources specialists, psychologists, and entrepreneurs are increasingly dealing with cases of depression among employees. This is partly due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. What are the symptoms of depression in the workplace? And besides the mentioned epidemic, what other factors can cause or exacerbate it?

According to respondents participating in the study for the report “Mental Health in the Workplace” developed as part of the campaign “Understand. Feel. Act!” by Employers of Poland and the ArteMis Group, in cooperation with the Content Partner, Institute One – Health and Harmony, the most common mental health issues that can affect employees are primarily burnout and depression.

It is worth considering what can cause depression at work and how such a state manifests itself.

Causes of depression at work

Psychological comfort at work depends on many factors. If you suspect that you may be experiencing depression related to your workplace, consider whether any of the following causes may have affected you:

  • Overload of tasks: Leaders and managers often delegate too many tasks to their subordinates, demanding the same or even greater productivity from them. The overwhelming workload can be truly burdensome, and the inability to meet the demands of superiors can lead to frustration and be a cause of depressive states.
  • High responsibility: Some positions in companies carry an increased level of responsibility, which amplifies feelings of stress. Prolonged stress can lead to the development of depressive states.
  • Feeling undervalued: A common cause of poor mental well-being at work is the lack of appreciation from superiors or colleagues. The absence of bonuses, raises, or positive feedback can create a sense of hopelessness, a lack of achievements, and feelings of being a weak link in the company.
  • Blurred boundary between personal and professional life: The inability to separate work from personal life results in losing the ability to rest and relax. When employees struggle to unwind and recharge after work, there is a higher risk of developing disorders, including depressive states.
  • Mobbing: Harassment at work, psychological abuse from supervisors, or harassment from colleagues are other causes of depression at work. Such reprehensible behavior is often downplayed, but its effects on mental well-being can be severe and difficult to reverse.


However, this is not an exhaustive list. There can be many more individual factors that cause depression at work, as it varies from person to person. It’s essential to observe your mental well-being and any signs your body may be giving you.

Depression at work- symptoms

Depression as an illness has its set of symptoms by which it can be recognized. However, the causes of depression at work are somewhat more specific, and we can include:

  • Feeling of helplessness and lack of purpose – an employee with depression may, at some point, stop recognizing the meaning in their actions. They might believe that their tasks serve no higher purpose, leading them to not put effort into their execution.
  • Difficulty with concentration – depressive states and other mental health issues at work often manifest as troubles with focusing thoughts and concentrating on specific tasks. Racing thoughts lead to a decrease in productivity, which, in turn, contributes to feelings of helplessness. This self-perpetuating cycle is also one of the symptoms of depression.
  • Reluctance towards new challenges – a happy employee who feels good at work approaches new challenges eagerly and actively. However, depressive states can suppress all enthusiasm, resulting in the elimination of the desire for professional development.
  • Fatigue – depression at work often manifests as constant fatigue, and weekends are too short to cope with it. Previous simple tasks suddenly become exhausting – not only physically but primarily mentally.

And these are just some of the symptoms. It’s essential – if we notice any atypical symptoms related to our mental well-being – to schedule an appointment with a psychologist. However, if we want to independently gain more knowledge about mental health prevention at work, a good solution is to use one of the applications supporting mental well-being – such as Helping Hand.

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