Facebook Pixel

Working and Depressed? Here Are 5 Ways to Cope

By HERWriter
Rate This
Working and Depressed? 5 Tips to Help You Cope Alliance/Fotolia

Depression can make going to work seem like climbing Mount Everest. At the end of the day, the only option that makes sense is to rush home so you can pass out in bed from emotional exhaustion.

Although women with severe depression may not even be able to get out of bed, there is hope for women who are still managing to make it to work. Besides going to a therapist regularly, seeking support from family and friends, and taking medication if needed, there are some other useful coping tips to consider.

1) Set boundaries at work and don’t volunteer to assist with too many projects, said Jessica Marchena, a licensed psychotherapist and co-owner of Heart Connection Center. Make sure not to take your work home with you, including avoiding answering any work-related emails at night.

2) If you’re uncomfortable at the thought of disclosing your depression to your boss, but your work performance is starting to suffer, you can just let your boss know that you’re working through some personal problems but can’t go into detail, said L. Marie Trotter, a professional certified coach and owner of Life Koach.

3) Identify the meaning in what you do at work, which may help you to decide if you want to continue working at your current job, according to Holly LaBarbera, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

If you find that your job is in line with your values and purpose, your talents are being used well, and you’re adding value to something in some way, it’s easier to feel satisfied and happy. However, if you don’t feel like your job serves the right purpose and your work feels meaningless, you may feel unhappy or it could even make depression worse.

When a job pays well but isn’t satisfying, this can lead to some cognitive dissonance, since there is an incentive to stay despite negative feelings, according to M.A. Haley, author of “Postpartum Depression / Postnatal Depression: The Basic Guide to Treatment and Support.”

4) It’s important to understand that your coping behaviors may be different from those of other women.

For example, some women with depression may find it helpful to work at a job that has structure, regularity and a definite reason to get out of bed each morning, according to Dr. Kirsten Thompson, a private practice psychiatrist and staff psychiatrist at University of California, Los Angeles.

Other women may benefit from taking time off of work or working fewer hours in order to get to a more stable emotional state.

5) Make time to take care of yourself, said Amanda Dutton, a psychotherapist and owner of Healthy Life Counseling. This can be difficult for working mothers who have a tendency to put others first, but if you don’t take care of yourself consistently, you may find yourself sick and not able to care for anyone. Self-care is not selfish, it’s selfless, Dutton added.


Marchena, Jessica. Email interview. October 21, 2015.

Trotter, L. Marie. Email interview. October 20, 2015.

LaBarbera, Holly. Email interview. October 20, 2015.

Thompson, Kirsten. Email interview. October 20, 2015.

Dutton, Amanda. Email interview. October 21, 2015.

Haley, M.A. Email interview. October 20, 2015.

Reviewed November 19, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment3 Comments

Misty, there is stigma surrounding depression, as there are stigmas surrounding many medical conditions. When at work, a person should provide explanation concerning any medical condition to the extent that she is comfortable doing so. If an individual feels compelled to go the extra mile and reveal her personal medical condition in an attempt to help dispel a particular medical stigma, that is her prerogative. However, no one should feel obligated to do so. Individuals and families work through “personal problems” all of the time. There is nothing “unprofessional or flakey” about admitting such to an employer.

December 15, 2015 - 9:30pm
HERWriter (reply to LMarie)

LMarie, Yes, I understand the need for individuals to discern their own paths. But depression is chronic and cyclical, like Lyme disease or rheumatoid arthritis, and it may be hard to explain that many "personal problems." Again, as I wrote in my first comment, I think it was a great article.

December 16, 2015 - 7:52am

Great article, although #2 gives me pause. We need to weigh the stigma of depression, which is an actual illness, versus saying, "I'm working through some personal problems," which to me sounds a little flakey and unprofessional. Something to think about. Thanks.

December 2, 2015 - 5:20am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.