Depression About Work: What’s at the Root of It?
Depression about work is a very common form of depression. It’s essential for the individual suffering from such depression to get to its root.
We know from much careful research that there’s an epidemic of depression about work in the workplace. According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the world’s most disabling diseases, and one which exacts a huge toll on individuals in the workplace — an impact that is only projected to grow by 2020, and thereafter.
What is this thing we call depression at work?
What Depression at Work Looks Like
Psychological or social aspects of work that might lead to or contribute to depression are known as psychosocial stressors. Many types of such stressors exist, but research by occupational stress expert Dr. Bo Netterstrøm et al. indicates that jobs combining high levels of demand with little opportunity to exert any control or influence are the work situations most likely to lead to depression.
If such a high responsibility / low level of control workplace also offers little or no real social support in handling these high demands — we have a near-perfect breeding ground for depression about work.
Depression About Work: Making the Connections
However, /a-midlife-transitions know that there’s also often much under the surface in the lives of individuals suffering from depression about work. A person’s depression may overtly manifest in terms of its connection with work, and yet may have strong linkages to a whole range of circumstances in the individual’s life.
We can see this powerfully, for example, around boundaries issues. For example, an individual may face great difficulty in a work situation because she or he has trouble effectively enforcing their personal boundaries, and keeping work obligations from crossing the line and interfering in violating ways in his or her personal life. Yet, as therapists dealing with anxiety and depression issues well know, a boundaries issue, and the need to say “No!” and protect oneself from excessive demands may well appear in several dimensions of a person’s life. An individual experiencing boundary-crossing in the workplace, may also face it in other areas, such as relationships with spouse, children, parents or peer group.
Depression About Work: Exploring the Depths
Perhaps even more importantly, depression about work may be connected to vital questions about who the individual really is, and what is really important in his or her life. We may experience depression for any of a number of reasons. One form of depression, as Jungian analyst Andrew Samuels tells us, is caused by a
…damming up of energy which, when released, may take on a more positive direction….
He goes on to say, perhaps surprisingly that
A state of depression… should be entered into as fully as possible [italics mine]… so that the feelings involved may be clarified [and so represent] …a more precise idea or image to which the depressed person can relate.
What Needs to Live and Breathe?
Samuels is helping us to understand that certain types of depression or “being shut down’ may be connected with deep feelings, or hopes, desires or yearnings for our lives that may be trying to come out of the unconscious, and come into focus — and that quite possibly need to be lived out in some form or another. As American Jungian analyst Robert Johnson emphasizes,
…there are key aspects of your being that must be brought into your life, or you will never realize your fulfillment. When we find ourselves in a midlife depression, suddenly hate our spouse, our job, our life — we can be sure that the unlived life is seeking our attention.
Work with individuals in /a-midlife-transition often focuses on depression at work. Depth case studies seeks empowerment and healing through understanding how work-related depression connects to to the deep levels of the person, and by trying to explore what is emerging in his or her life. The results of this journey of /a-midlife-transition are often genuinely life-changing.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst
PHOTOS: Mark Bonica (Creative Commons Licence) ; Rennett Stowe (Creative Commons Licence) ;
© 2018 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)