Workplace Depression

Recognizing Depression in the Workplace

As a leader can you recognize when someone is going through depression? Sometimes it manifest itself in different ways. There are some who can hide it pretty well, however there is almost always signs that someone is in the midst of a struggle.

High Performer in a Dive

Someone who is normally a mover and shaker; making things happen with whatever they are assigned. With this person you start seeing less drive, perhaps they seem nonchalant in their approach to work. Projects are slipping. In meetings where their usual role is a leader yet they are now taking a quiet backseat.

Positive to Negative Forces

Negative tones to people and/or their work begin to surface. When you have one-on-one with these individuals are you picking up on tones that are critical? While they may be subtle small seeds of doubt will be sprinkled in throughout the conversations.

Lack of Confidence

When depression hits the person’s head is in a fog. Their ability to make decisions lessens therefore leading them to feel less confident about their performance. Signs could be the need for reassurance of their performance or an unusual desire to seek approval before moving forward with task. The individual may start hesitating before pulling the trigger on project work finding reason’s to delay their efforts.

Physical or Behavior Changes

There are times when depression will affect the person’s behaviors as well. Temperament could shift to the extremes. A person might become easily agitated making random remarks or they person who was once outgoing might shrink back into the crowd. Their attire could become more sloppy and grooming not so important. Uncombed hair, wrinkled clothing or dressing down could all be signs of depression.

What to Do?

If not careful a leader who is not aware of signs of depression could make matters worse. Reprimanding someone who is battling depression will drive them deeper into their darkness. The more pressure that is placed on the individual the worse their state of mind will be.

Uncaring, lazy or even reckless might be what one could interpret. Diagnosing everything as performance problems means the wrong solutions will be implemented.

The best approach for someone who has recently made a downward shift in performance or the areas mentioned the first course of action is to have a conversation. Take a personal interest investigating what might be occurring in his or her personal lives. Create a safe place where the individual will open up without fear of judgment.

Admission of depression is hard for the person who is struggling to do. Many keep it quiet and try to hide it as long as they can. Too often the secret leads to worse things such as health issues, relational problems or even suicide.

The number one asset of any company is their people; however too often leaders take better care of their computers and machinery. When the number one asset shows signs of breaking down or begins to miss a step immediate attention should be given. An inquisitive approach to the situation will yield positive outcomes far greater than angry accusations. Asking questions might not just improve a person’s performance, it could save their life.




When I look back at my professional career the best moves were the most risky. Each risky move came with an entourage of friends screaming, “don’t do it!”

Jumping from my comfortable hometown job of working in a warehouse to a career in the Marines brought wagers from friends who bet I would wash out.

Retiring from the Marines after 24 years came with people shaking their heads in doubt that I would find a job.

Switching from logistics to being a process improvement Black Belt within the company came with warnings I would be out of a job within a year.

Making yet another career change from manufacturing to healthcare left friends in shock just waiting on my demise to come.

The truth is each risky step took me to a new adventure. Every move from comfort found me further from the boredom and fear that kept those who said it couldn’t be done paralyzed. Many of the Nay-Sayers still sit in seats of miserable comfort while each day I enjoy meaningful work that has purpose.

I look forward to what I do each day all because I was willing to take a risk when opportunity showed itself. Had I played it safe I’d still be in some warehouse picking orders from a shelf having never known the adventures that I missed. I’m so very thankful I listened to opportunity and jumped each time it showed itself.

What about you? Are you comfortable? Are there things you want to do, but for some reason don’t pursue? Why not take a step of faith today and begin moving toward that something that you have always wanted to do?



Live Life! It’s time to take a risk!