By Yvonne Milosevic
Unless you’re a Zen master yogi, everyone has occasional stress at work. But how can you tell whether what you’re feeling is garden variety workplace frustration, or a more serious depression? Scan these seven red flags to help you evaluate if your job is sucking the life right out of you.
You have no work/life balance
The work/life balance struggle is real. See if you recognize any of these warning signs that you have fuzzy work and home boundaries. Do you immediately answer work texts and emails after hours and on weekends? Do your friends or partner complain they never see you? Has your energy level tanked lately?
If any of this sounds familiar, your work-life balance is out of whack. Continuing to function this way for a prolonged period has serious repercussions. Studies show that poor work-life balance can lead to dismal health later in life. Self-care is crucial.
You’re dealing with workplace bullying
Bullying behavior at the office can take many forms and can involve bosses, coworkers, or clients. Does a supervisor change work arrangements on a whim to deliberately inconvenience you? Unreasonable or constantly shifting deadlines would keep anyone on eggshells. Do you have a colleague who loves to “joke” by belittling or demeaning you in front of other people?
You don’t have to be the direct target of the bullying behavior to suffer its effects. Daily immersion in this kind of toxic work environment would crush anyone’s morale.
You’re worried about losing your job
Research suggests constantly worrying about losing your job is worse for your health than getting straight up fired. Sociologist Sarah Burgard of the University of Michigan explained this phenomenon in the journal Live Science.
In two different studies, people persistently concerned about losing their jobs reported significantly worse overall health, and felt more depressed than those who had actually lost and regained their jobs recently, Burgard found.
When you don’t know what the future will bring, and you can’t do anything until the shoe actually drops, that uncertainty can do a number on us.
You’re getting sick more often
Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol wreak havoc on the immune system. Our emotions affect our physical health. Constant stress leaves us vulnerable to catching every pesky cold floating around the office. If you’re getting sick more often than you used to, it could signal that stress and depression are affecting your body’s ability to fight off infection.
You don’t care about your job performance
When your work feels emotionally draining, even mundane tasks like answering emails can drag you down. The fancy HR term for this is presenteeism, AKA going through the motions on autopilot. If you feel no real connection to your colleagues or clients, find yourself procrastinating a lot, or have completely lost interest in your work, it’s time to find out whether moving on to something new is the best next step.
You’ll do anything to avoid the office
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) report estimated that depression causes 200 million lost workdays in the U.S. each year. In a 3-month period, the CDCP estimated that depressed employees miss an average of 4.8 workdays. Plus, they average 11.5 days of reduced productivity.
Many of us suffer from the “Sunday Sads.” You know, that feeling of dread that creeps up when you realize Monday and it’s never-ending To-Do List is almost here. But if you experience the Sunday Sads straight through ’til Friday, work is the likely culprit.
You feel hopeless and stuck
Your job could be at the root of your depression if it’s not letting you grow. Maybe you’re burned out, or feel like you’ve hit a dead end career-wise. If you don’t enjoy what you spend at least a third of your life doing, then something needs to change.
Do you recognize any of these signs in your own work life? If so, don’t just suck it up and accept the grind. Find ways to get help for your job-induced misery and start polishing that CV. When you’re ready, start looking elsewhere for work that won’t make you sick.