The online survey, conducted by one of SA’s leading providers of central nervous system (CNS) pharmaceuticals, Pharma Dynamics, found that depression may be the culprit behind absenteeism and workplace blunders among women who have experienced its symptoms.
Respondents rated depression, alongside child-care responsibilities and bureaucratic structures, as a primary barrier to career success and 66% of women said it hampered their overall job performance.
Depression interfered with work in various ways. Almost 65% of women reported that depression caused them to be quiet and reserved and 41% said they were more prone to making job-related mistakes due to lack of concentration and sleep.
Mariska Fouche, spokesman for Pharma Dynamics says it’s not just perfectionists and workaholics who tip over the edge.
“With more women working overtime and on top of that still having to deal with child-care responsibilities at home, it is no surprise many are bordering on the brink when it comes to their physical and mental health. ” says Fouche.
Nearly 40% of women surveyed admitted to suffering from depression –33% felt unable to face work, 29% generally avoided contact with other colleagues and almost a quarter of the sample (22%) said they took more sick leave as a result of symptoms related to depression.
One in 10 women reported having resigned or lost a job mainly due to symptoms of depression.
“It’s important,” says Fouche, “to note depression is not merely feeling sad because you’ve had a bad day at work.”
“Depression is prolonged and severe despondency and dejection, usually accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. It is a mental condition that manifests itself typically in a lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration and an interest in life.”
Of the 1 057 women diagnosed with depression, only 464 are currently being treated, of which 65% are on medication and 35% are undergoing psychotherapy.
“Besides the personal struggle, women living with depression also have to deal with other people’s perceptions of depression – many of which aren’t true. Even though the stigma associated with the condition is decreasing, it continues to be a major factor in preventing women from seeking help.
“What you choose to share in a workplace setting, however, is controversial when it comes to depression. If you tell your colleagues that you suffer from depression, you could experience a combination of social stigma and discrimination or get passed over for a promotion but hiding signs of depression can be stressful too,” she warns.
Fouche shares the following advice should you decide to broach the topic with colleagues.
· Wait for an appropriate time to share your experience of depression, such as lunchtime or at an office social when the topic of discussion is generally not focused on work.
· Don’t judge yourself – this only perpetuates a negative social stigma.
· Help friends, family and colleagues gain a greater understanding of depression. Reinforce that it is normal behaviour and how they can help.
·· Surround yourself with positive people who understand what you are going through and are supportive.
“One of the best ways to manage depression is to stay positive and vigilant about your condition. Recognise different patterns in your mood, avoid setting difficult goals, participate in activities that make you feel better and don’t expect to just snap out of it. It is important to connect with people who understand depression and what the recovery process involves.”
Sufferers can contact Pharma Dynamics’ toll-free helpline on 0800 205 026, from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.