Symptoms of Depression

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Health Assured team

10 March 2022

One in every five adults have been affected by depression–making it one of the most common mental health illnesses.

If you’re an employer, depression will likely affect some of your workers, now and in the near future.

So, it’s crucial to understand how to spot the signs and eliminate impacts in the workplace.

In this guide, we’ll learn about depression symptoms in detail, whether it counts as a disability, and how to support employees suffering from the illness.

What are symptoms of depression?

There are so many different symptoms which can lead to a depression diagnosis.

Almost all of them can be placed into three categories–physical, psychological, and social.

According to the symptoms, a person’s depression can relate to one category or stretch across all three.

Physical symptoms of depression 

Physical symptoms of depression in men and women can either be similar or different, depending on the circumstances. These can include:

  • Sleeping problems.
  • Weight fluctuation.
  • Depleted energy.
  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual.
  • Hormonal changes.

Psychological symptoms of depression 

Psychological symptoms are sometimes known as 'cognitive symptoms of depression'. These include:

  • Persistently low moods or sadness.
  • Feeling helplessness, anxiety, or stress.
  • Lack of motivation and disinterest.
  • Difficulty in making decisions.
  • Having self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
  • Feeling empty or numb.

Social symptoms of depression 

These symptoms can accumulate from a mixture of the other two categories. And in turn, can lead to: 

  • Losing interest in hobbies.
  • Having problems with maintaining relationships.
  • Avoiding social situations (in professional and personal lives).

What are the levels of severities for depression?

The intensity of a person’s symptoms will depend on how severe the depression is.

For example, it might be hard to determine whether memory loss is a common symptom for depression. This is because it can range from short-term forgetfulness to long-term memory loss.

It's difficult to figure out whether someone is depressed or just feeling a little 'blue'.

The severity of the depression is then categorised into three levels:

  • Mild depression.
  • Moderate depression.
  • Severe depression.

What are other types of depression?

There are other types of depression which fit into categories of their own. These include:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) 

SAD comes and goes with seasonal changes. It’s usually starts in winter; but it can be triggered during summertime, too. Core symptoms of depression here include a lack of energy, persistent sadness, and sleeping problems. 

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder was previously known as manic depression. Bipolar or manic depression symptoms include episodes of depression (hopelessness) and mania (extreme highs).

Post and prenatal depression 

Prenatal and postnatal depression affects one in every ten women. The severity of depression found in women can vary depending on pregnancy stages.

Symptoms of prenatal depression include excessive anxiety about birthing, loss of energy, and sleeping problems.

Symptoms of postnatal depression include difficulty bonding with the baby and withdrawal from others. 

Psychotic depression 

Someone with a severe form of depression can experience psychosis, also known as psychotic depression.

They may go through symptoms like delusions (believing things that aren’t true) and hallucinations (hearing, seeing, and feeling things that aren’t there). 

Legal rights for employees with depression 

Employers must legally eliminate any act of ill-treatment against workers with depression.

Under the Equality Act (2010), you must protects employees from discrimination against mental health (even though it isn't a specific protected characteristic).

Depression can qualify as a mental health illness and a disability–but only if these conditions fit:

  • It lasts or will last for at least 12 months.
  • It negatively impacts an employee’s life at work.
  • It negatively impacts an employee's ability to perform at work.

How to support an employee with depression 

Depending upon the severity, depression at work can prove difficult and challenging to manage.

But as an employer, you have a duty of care to look after your staff–and this includes their health.

Here’s how you can support an employee with depression:

Regular catchups

Hold regular meetings with employees to check on their mental wellbeing. It might prove beneficial for managers or a dedicated HR representative to hold these meetings.

Create a safe space where they can express personal conditions; and emphasise on confidentiality. The meetings should encourage employees to open up, as well as explain what help they need. 

Reasonable adjustments 

You should introduce reasonable adjustments to improve working conditions and practices. Think about how symptoms and triggers can impact daily tasks, interaction with colleagues, and motivation at work.

Offer flexible working, extra breaks, or remote working when possible. These adjustments may vastly improve an employee’s work experience.

Mental health support 

Review your mental health support services which are offered to employees. These can be internal or external processes, like Employee Assistance Programmes.

Extra mental health support can help employees cope with depression through lifestyle changes.

Get expert advice on depression symptoms from Health Assured 

Any employee suffering from depression is legally entitled to reasonable care and support.

If you neglect their medical needs, you could face legal claims–leading to major impacts on your business and bottom-line.

Health Assured provides expert advice on depression and other mental health illnesses. Our teams offer guidance on employee wellbeing whilst simultaneously meeting your business needs.

We also provide a 24/7 helpline, that’s open 365 days a year–helping you care for your staff all year round. Arrange a call back from an expert today on 0800 206 2553.

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