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Know when to seek help

Even people who are in treatment and have learned how to cope can still return to an acute phase of depression that leaves them totally withdrawn. 

Whether they're mostly relying on medications or counseling, they may need a"therapeutic reset." 

Take a mental health break

It's hard when you can't function as well as you're used to, but slogging on doesn't work when you're in a downward spiral. 

When you're at a crossroads in terms of your mental health, you need to really say, 'OK, I'm going to ask for five days off. That might mean the difference between me not having a mental health breakdown, or needing to take additional time off.

Recognize the signs

  • You're tired all the time. 
  • Cooperating with colleagues takes an enormous effort. 
  • You keep your office door shut and interact with your computer. 
  • It's hard to concentrate and impossible to summon up a positive attitude. 
  • Your productivity is down the drain.
  • Deadlines don't motivate you.
  • You're calling in sick or you're burying yourself in tasks to avoid your emotions. 

Tap into peer support 

If you're not dealing with depression but want to be more attuned to your colleagues, step away from the computer every so often. 

Just walk the hall, poke your head in a few offices and say hello... It never does more harm than good to ask how somebody's doing: 'You seem a little low today; is everything OK?'

Workplace insurance

With chronic conditions -- like depression -- you have workplace protections against discrimination. 

Many workplaces have employee assistance programs that include confidential mental health services. Also, look into your health insurance coverage for treatment including counseling and medication.

Find treatment

"Depression is no different from any other chronic condition," says Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. 

"To stay with it and maintain an independent and productive life -- it's important to identify it, get the appropriate treatment and then stick with that treatment." 

Anticipate job triggers

As you get a handle on depression, you develop your personal tool kit to manage it. 

Sometimes you can anticipate depression triggers and prepare in advance. 

Office parties

Withdrawal is a symptom of depression, not a solution. Work-social gatherings meant to be fun can feel more like torture. 

You might be able to manage five minutes, maybe catch up on a work discussion with a colleague in a quiet corner, then leave. If you've shared your struggle with an office buddy or two, they can help by hanging out with you away from the action.

Telling your boss

Before you disclose your diagnosis, it helps to assess your relationship with your boss and to determine how much information you feel comfortable sharing. 

Take care of your body

  • Get enough sleep at night.
  • Nourish yourself properly – even when it's difficult to put food in your mouth.
  • Take a walk when you can; a light jog or run can churn up endorphins to ease some depression symptoms. 
  • Meditation helps some people with depression or stress.

Reach out to loved ones

Depression can run in families, and some of your relatives may have already been there themselves. They may be further along in managing their condition and can give you pointers on how to get through the day. 

Be easy on yourself

You're not alone – and once you start talking about this condition, you'll find that there are more people who are sympathetic to you than those who are critical.

While you're being proactive about treatment, take it one day at a time and be very gentle with yourself.

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