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What To Do When You Can’t Work Due to Anxiety and Depression

The effects of anxiety disorders and depressive disorders can vary widely from one person to the next. For some people, these concerns can make it difficult to form and maintain healthy relationships, make appropriate progress in school, or meet their personal responsibilities. For others, the impact can be so severe that they can’t work due to anxiety and depression

The Scope and Impact of Anxiety and Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health disorders in the U.S.:

  • About 48 million adults (or 19.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and above) had an anxiety disorder in the previous 12 months. 
  • About 21 million adults in the U.S. (8.3% of that demographic group) had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

As established in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), impaired functioning in one or more important areas is among the criteria for each of these disorders. But the degree to which these conditions can degrade a person’s quality of life can range from minimal to debilitating. 

The NIMH has reported that 22.8% of adults who develop anxiety disorders and 70% of those who have major depressive disorder experience severe impairment as scored on the Sheehan Disability Scale. 

More: Do I Have Depression? Take Our Quiz

How Anxiety and Depression Can Affect Your Work

Before we delve into the many potential reasons why someone can’t work due to anxiety and depression, let’s take a brief step back to discuss what we mean when we use these two terms.

Anxiety is a general descriptor that can be applied to several disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (social phobia), panic disorder, agoraphobia, and specific phobia. 

While each of these conditions are distinct from one another, they all involve excessive worry and disproportionate fear. Some can also cause a person to experience a variety of distressing physical symptoms.

Depression can also refer to multiple disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression.

 The general characteristics of depressive disorders include low mood, diminished energy, poor self-esteem, pervasive sadness, and thoughts of death.

Someone who has either or both of these disorders may find that their ability to work is affected in the following ways:

  • Impaired focus and concentration: Both anxiety disorders and depressive disorders can make it difficult for a person to maintain the consistent level of focus that is required in most jobs.
  • Self-doubt: Anxiety and depression can cause people to question their abilities and underestimate their worth. This can make it difficult for people to apply for a position, participate in the interview process, and perform to their greatest potential.
  • Diminished energy and motivation: People who have depression can sometimes find it difficult to even get out of bed some days, much less function effectively throughout a full workday.
  • Difficulty interacting with others: Depression and some anxiety disorders can erode a person’s capacity for engaging with colleagues and customers. 
  • Burnout: It’s not uncommon for people with anxiety and depression to fight through their symptoms and achieve career success. But the effort it can take to accomplish this can, over time, lead to exhaustion and burnout.

Actions to Take When You Can’t Work Due to Anxiety and Depression

When you can’t work due to anxiety and depression, the optimal next step can depend on the nature and severity of your struggles.

  • If you typically are able to manage your symptoms, but you’re having a particularly difficult day, you may simply need to take a sick day or use PTO (paid time off) if you have it. You can decide what to disclose about your reason for taking the day based on your company’s policies and your relationship with your supervisor.
  • If your symptoms have become so severe that you fear you may not be able to continue in your current position, you may want to have a conversation with your supervisor, your union representative, or your organization’s human resources department. You may be able to take unpaid leave in order to get treatment.
  • If you believe that you can fulfill the responsibilities of your job with a reasonable accommodation from your employer, you may be entitled to a certain level of support under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) using FMLA for mental health or short-term disability.
  • If anxiety or depression has prevented you from seeking employment or finding a job, you should seriously consider seeking mental health treatment. Anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are treatable conditions. When you get the right type of treatment – which may include a combination of medication and therapy – you can make sustained progress to a much more productive and satisfying life.

Learn More About Anxiety and Depression Treatment in Nashville

Don’t let anxiety, depression, or another mental health concern prevent you from living the life you desire. No matter what you’ve been going through, please know that you are not alone. Arbor Wellness is here to help. 

Our mental health treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee, offers personalize care and comprehensive support at the residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels. Our team of experienced professionals can assess the full scope of your needs, help you identify your short- and long-term goals, then develop an individualized plan just for you.

Your path toward a healthier and more hopeful future is closer than you realize. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.