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Combating Depression and Anxiety in a Leadership Role

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Depression and anxiety are mental health conditions that affect everyone at some point in their lives. Whether you’re a CEO in a company with lots to manage, or an employee down the chain, stress can mount if it’s not dealt with. This can lead to poor performance at work as well as suffering relationships and lack of happiness at home.

Though some of us may have a better ability to deal with these factors than others, it’s important to recognize the symptoms. Learning to recognize your depression and/or anxiety symptoms will help you seek help from professionals or take steps to shift your internal and external behavior patterns for the better. When you’re affected by depression and anxiety, those around you can feel the negative results as well.

How Your State of Mind Affects Othersphoto-1496180470114-6ef490f3ff22-263x210

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When you’re in a leadership role, other people are looking to you for reaffirming action and advice. You may be managing employees, setting an example for an association, or serving as a leading board member. Your actions, thoughts, and expressions are all having an affect on those that look up to you. Being in the right state of mind is key to performing your functions to the fullest. When you become depressed or full of anxiety, others can pick up on the cues that signal insecurity, lack of motivation, and indecisiveness. Your relationships at work and outside of work may become more strained.

How to Recognize the Signs

The signs of depression and anxiety can often be easily identified by others, but we may have a hard time seeing these symptoms in ourselves. Some of these signs may even be unexpected and hard to see in yourself.

  • Lack of concentration, foggy memory, and trouble making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of being helpless and worthless
  • A negative outlook on life
  • Lack of sleep or too much sleep on a regular basis
  • Easily irritated and testy
  • Restlessness
  • A loss of desire to do things you once enjoyed
  • Lack of sexual interest
  • Overeating or eating too little
  • Persistent pains, headaches, or cramps
  • Digestive problems that won’t go away
  • Often feeling sad, anxious, or emotionless
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

When to Seek Help

Everyone experiences sadness, loneliness, and stress as a result of things that happen in our daily lives. When these feelings last for a long time, become overwhelming, or lead to physical effects, it is time to seek help from a professional. A medical doctor is a good place to start, and therapy may be an option to follow up with. Your doctor can test for symptoms and help you manage depression and anxiety with self-applied techniques, or anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. Some health care providers may also suggest changes to your dietary habits to boost your mental health and serotonin levels. When left untreated, depression and anxiety can lead to suicide or pain that can persist for years.

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When you’re in a leadership position in which you manage a team of employees, everyone below your rank is expecting to receive direction to stay on task and get the job done. When the main link loses focus, the chain begins to weaken. Job performance may suffer as motivation dwindles. Symptoms like lack of interest and concentration, trouble making decisions, and irritability can have devastating effects on your bottom line and employee morale. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that for every one dollar put into treatment for common mental disorders like depression, there is a return of $4 in better health and productivity.

Risk Factors for Depression and Anxiety within Companies

Whether your company is large and expansive or a small business, it can be a susceptible environment for creating depression and anxiety amongst management and workers. Some of these factors include:

  • Outdated health and safety policies
  • Lack of communication and poor management practices
  • Lack of control over one’s work
  • No involvement in decision making
  • Not enough support for employees
  • Overly demanding work hours
  • Inability to take time off to promote one’s mental health
  • Lack of direction in one’s tasks
  • Harassment between employees
  • Negative attitudes

Business owners and managers can take steps to correct these issues before they become major problems that lead to good workers leaving the company and seeking other employment opportunities.

Improving the Team Environment

You might be at the top of the leadership chain of command, or you could be a part of a leadership team that reports to others. Whatever the case, there are ways to improve the workplace environment to fight off depression and anxiety in each team player. One of the first steps is to review the health and safety policies to ensure they are up-to-date and put the employees’ safety as priority number one. This may include screening for the use of illegal substances and providing resources for employees to manage abuse.

Other steps can include involving others in decision making. This can help take the stress off of management and make other employees feel like active teammates that have some control over their area of work. Starting reward programs for good work can also motivate employees, as well as management, boost productivity, and promote positive attitudes in the workplace that extend to their home life.

Allowing much needed time off to strengthen one’s own mental health is another important way to combat anxiety and depression that is often overlooked by workaholics. Even just taking regular breaks during the workday is essential. When work becomes frustrating, take a break to relax and return to look at the problem with a refreshed view.

The Take-Away

When left unchecked, depression and anxiety can become a problem that spirals out of control and can be hard to overcome. Luckily, help is available in the form of support from physical and mental healthcare providers. We all need a little help in conquering mental issues sometimes, and those in leadership roles are no exception. In fact, they may be at more risk of developing depression and anxiety due to their increased dependency from others. When you feel the symptoms of depression, take the steps needed to keep it from progressing and get your life back on track.

About the Author

Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing but also enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home.

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