Depression Overview

One in six of us may experience some form of depression in our lives. It is a common but treatable condition. The first step towards getting help is recognising the problem. Sufferers may complain of a persisting relentless low mood and loss of all interest in life, tearfulness, poor sleep and low energy amongst other symptoms.

More about symptoms of depression  (NHS direct)

How is it treated?

Treatment for depression depends on the severity of the problem but usually involves a combination of using medication and psychological therapies.

More about treatment options (NHS Direct)

Depression and work

Work is generally good for our mental health. It provides shape and meaning to our day. Sometimes however pressures at work combined with difficult personal circumstances can make it hard to manage depression. Talking to your manager or the Occupational Health Service confidentially may help address the problems in the workplace.
More information on the Royal College of Psychiatrists  website.

Recognising depression in employees

Many employees are reluctant to talk about their mental health problems and people must be allowed privacy and autonomy about their health. However, if mental health issues are recognised early and help provided, evidence suggests that it greatly benefits both employee and employer. If you are worried about an employee, try to find an appropriate moment to express concerns. They should be encouraged to discuss matters with their family doctor. 

Always refer to the University Occupational Health Service when concerns have been raised that::

  1. A mental health problem may be caused by some aspect of the workplace, or made worse by work.
  2. Someone's thinking or judgement may affect safety-critical work, because they or other people could be harmed.

Signs in the workplace that an individual may have depression include: tearfulness,  low mood, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, slowness and reduced productivity, irritability, behaving out of character, absenteeism, lateness or missing appointments, difficulty delegating and reduced social interaction with others. 

Early Detection of Mental Health Problems

Helping Employees Return to Work after Absence Due to Anxiety or Depression

working woman looking unhappyMost affected people do not require any time off work. Depression is a treatable condition and absent employees should be encouraged to return to work as soon as they feel that they are able. Evidence suggests that early return to work is encouraged by line managers keeping in touch with an absent employee at least every two weeks. Thoughtful adjustments to support the employee back to work can improve the chances of a successful return.

An individual may benefit from short-term minor adjustments to their hours, location or responsibilities. A line manager should discuss with the employee what they feel they can manage and how best to support their return. Careful consideration should be given to try and support reasonable requests for adjustments. The Occupational Health Service team are happy to offer advice for example regarding such adjustments.

See Policy: Psychiatric Illness in the Workplace for more guidance.

Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one form of psychological treatment for depression based on the principle that the way we feel is partly dependent on the way we think about things. What is cognitive behavioural therapy It teaches you to behave in ways that challenge negative thoughts - for example, being active to challenge feelings of hopelessness. CBT may be available through your general practitioner or your counsellor. It can also be accessed for free on-line through  Back from the Bluez