Managing anxiety and depression in a stressful job
February 20, 2011 5:44 AM Subscribe
How do those of you with depression and anxiety manage demanding professional jobs?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I am currently being treated for depression and anxiety with both medication (Zoloft) and regular appointments with a psychologist. I’ve been in treatment for around three weeks now, and am definitely improving, though I’ve got a long way to go. The current bout of depression has been triggered by the stress of my job, although I suspect I have an underlying tendency to it.
I’ve been reading, and talking with my psychologist, about CBT and in particular the danger of negative self-talk. The problem is that I work in a very stressful job that has very high expectations. On one level I am really proud of myself for getting something done every day – a month ago I was spending whole days staring at the screen, too paralysed by anxiety to do anything. On the other hand, I know that I am not operating at nearly the level required to be effective in my job, and that lots of things are slipping between the cracks – including a couple of big, important tasks that I keep putting off because of the amount of anxiety they’re producing. It’s really hard to keep my thoughts positive when I know (from feedback from my manager as well as my own judgement) I’m not doing what’s required.
I’ve only been in the role for a few months, and am still heading up a very steep learning curve. I work long hours – an 11 or 12 hour day is fairly standard, and 15 hours is expected when we’re busy (as we will be for the next couple of weeks), so there’s little opportunity to recharge. It’s an office-based job, but in a field where one slip could put my boss on the front page of the paper, which is one source of stress. The work is constant, responsive and reactive – I’m expected to be on call constantly, and a single unproductive day seems to set me back days in terms of keeping up with the workload. I’m expected to be across every detail of every issue, and while this is clearly impossible, as I’m new I’m still developing my judgement on how to pick which things I can let drop.
My question: how do those of you who are managing anxiety and depression while working a job like this do it? How do you handle the inevitable bad days without setting yourself so far back it seems you’ll never catch up with the work?
Quitting is definitely an option that I’m considering, but this job is a major professional opportunity for me, and I don’t want to let it go until I’m pretty sure that I can’t make it work. Taking a few weeks off is probably not an option – this is the type of environment where you’re expected to be able to handle the pressure, and besides the work would just pile up while I was gone. My manager knows I am dealing with some ‘health issues’ (had to say something so I can get out to appointments) but I’m not keen to discuss it with them in any more detail.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d prefer to answer in private, or want more information.