Boss Lady

Burnout or something more? Beware connection of work stress and depression


Just living in the 21st century puts one under a lot of pressure. Every day we read about imminent environmental collapse, terrorism or the threat of another cold war. And every season a deadly disease epidemic seemingly threatens to wipe the whole of mankind off the face of the Earth. And then there’s our work and its connection to stress and depression.

As women, we have made incredible progress in proving ourselves in a male-dominated workforce. With more women than ever holding higher positions on the corporate ladder, and even currently making up half of the American workforce, things are looking significantly different for us than how they were just a few decades ago.

Stress and depression: beware the identification as mere burnout

However, recurring issues — such as work/personal life imbalance, economic and social obstacles, and the unique life circumstances women face — still make everything far from perfect for us. 

It’s no wonder, therefore, that with all the pressure on us to succeed, burnout has become more commonplace for us. From feeling a lack of energy and motivation, to experiencing a loss of focus in mundane tasks, it’s normal to wonder if your career is right for you after several years in a role.

However, if these feelings start to occur more frequently, they could hint at a deeper problem: stress and depression. Despite popular misconceptions, stress and depression is more than just feeling “burnt out” or “down” or “blue.”

4 Lesser-Known Signs of Depression

If you start to notice any of these four signs, it may suggest that you might be struggling with this very common mental illness.

Unexpected Anger or Mood Swings

There are days when workday routine can feel more frustrating than others, and feeling anger or annoyance in these circumstances is absolutely understandable. This is especially true in jobs with dysfunctional workplace dynamics, where it may feel like your efforts at work are not appreciated. However, shifting from different ranges of emotions (like sudden highs or lows) on a regular basis is something to be on the lookout for. 

For instance, if you start to feel vulnerable and be affected by small things more easily, it might not just be workplace burnout. Maybe you started your day with a smile, but then everything unexpectedly turned sour as the day progressed.

Your patience may be minimal, or you may even feel slightly perky… only to find yourself feeling grumpy again. Reaching a point of considering your mood as “unpredictable” is often related to depression, and trying to ignore or suppress your feelings can actually be worse for you in the long run.

Struggling with Decision Making

We tend to make thousands of small, insignificant decisions each day. Deciding whether to grab an umbrella or not, what to wear today (such as that power suit, or the pencil skirt), what we should pack for lunch, or what route you should take to work are automatic and effortless to a healthy mind. Conversely, they may spell out huge trouble for those who are struggling with depression

This inability to make seemingly “simple” decisions is often related to self-consciousness, insecurities, and fears. Depression may interfere with your ability to perform common intuitive processes and stop you from making up your mind in any given situation.

This problem may even seem more frequent while at work, as certain jobs demand constant decision-making that may directly or indirectly affect you and your entire team. This indecision may not be work-related, but rather, instead tied to depression.

Loss of Interest in Hobbies or Friends

Spending time out with your friends, watching your favorite TV show, or that hobby that disconnects you from this world: do you feel like none of these spark as much joy as they used to before? If you’re not experiencing the same happiness you used to feel when doing things that once brought you pleasure, then depression may be to blame.

It’s far too easy to blame that apathy on your job, as we sometimes tend to see our careers as energy-draining, especially with those that rely on monotonous tasks. 

In turn, you may find yourself starting to turn down social engagements with your friends and other opportunities from the outside world, which can lead to a feeling of loneliness. Emotional numbness is a fairly common symptom of depression and while its severity can vary depending on the case, it may affect the way you spend your day and keep up with your routine. 

Feeling More Tired Than Usual

It is not unusual to see a person with depression stating that they feel exhausted throughout their day. Some people may even find themselves either sleeping too much, or maybe you’re sleeping too little and struggling with insomnia at night.

The reason behind this is that depression affects the way neurotransmitters would usually act in your brain. These neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are not only responsible for making us motivated. They also play a role in our ability to fall or be asleep, and in the regulation of our energy levels. 

Burnout can make you tired too, and it is reinforced by the demanding, stressful nature of the majority of jobs nowadays. House and maternal responsibilities also contribute to the overall fatigue that we feel on a day-to-day basis.

However, the difference lies in the fact that a burned-out person may desire to do things, but feel unable to do so due to their exhaustion. On the other hand, a depressed person may not desire to do anything in the first place. 

Are You Struggling with Depression?

Symptoms of depression can emerge in anyone, at any moment. In fact, women are twice as likely to develop some degree of depression than men. However, you do not need to feel like you have to conceal these feelings, and there are plenty of treatments available for you, ranging from conventional to alternative options. Taking care of your mental health is crucial to ensure your overall well-being, and reliable mental health assistance for women is fortunately available to women who do struggle with it. 

Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, and experiencing stress and depression isn’t a character flaw and definitely does not mean that you are weak or incapable. As a woman who is trying to balance her personal life and her career, there’s often a significant amount of pressure on you. Ultimately, taking charge of your mental health can be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself — and the sooner you do it, the better the outcome can be for you, your family, and your job.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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