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Depression - It’s More Common Than You Think
Depression affects men and women of any age, occupation, or social status - often in their prime working years. Nearly eight per cent of all Canadians will experience depression at some point in their lives.
Many people suffer from depression without identifying it as such.
If you are*:
Like three million other Canadian adults, you may be suffering from depression.
(*Source: Canadian Mental Health Association)
What is Depression?
It’s normal to feel “blue” or down in the dumps every now and then. Misfortune or personal problems can leave us all struggling with feelings of loss, sadness, frustration, or disappointment. But when these emotions persist for more than a few weeks and intensify as time goes by, it may be a sign of depression.
Depression is a serious medical illness that can interfere with your ability to carry out the normal functions of everyday life. It can change the way you think and behave, and undermine your sense of personal well-being.
The effects of depression can also affect everyone around you - friends and family, colleagues and co-workers.
The Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Depression may begin suddenly, or it may develop slowly over a period of weeks or months. While everyone experiences depression in his or her own way, there are some common warning signs.
Causes of Depression
Depression can be triggered by:
Gender may also play a role in depression. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, particularly during menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and menopause.
The Effect of Stress
Stress is one of the major risk factors for depression. Workplace stress has many causes and is commonly associated with excessive time and workload pressures.
An ETFO study found that over 90 per cent of all public elementary teachers felt they were overworked. More than 69 per cent also felt that their workload was having a negative impact on their physical and mental health. Workplace exposure to high levels of chronic stress puts teachers at particular risk of depression.
Key Causes of Teacher Stress
Working conditions, such as the following, may make teachers particularly vulnerable to depression:
Dealing with Stress
Prolonged exposure to stress can cause serious health issues. Making a few, simple, lifestyle
changes can reduce your stress level and lower your risk of depression. Protect yourself by:
Support a Colleague Suffering from Depression
Sometimes, people suffer needlessly with depression because they are embarrassed, or worried about gossip and work consequences. If you suspect that a colleague is depressed, be supportive and understanding.
Lend a sympathetic ear and try to get your colleague to talk openly about his or her thoughts and feelings. Remember that your colleague is ill and may react strongly to the things you say or do. Be patient, caring, and respectful, even if your support is not immediately appreciated.
Encourage your colleague to seek professional help. The sooner she or he gets help, the sooner life will return to normal.
Get Help for Your Own Depression
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, get professional help as soon as possible. Most people with depression can be successfully treated with counselling, medication and lifestyle changes.
For health-related concerns, contact your physician. Your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist or specially trained social worker.
For work-related concerns, contact your ETFO local or provincial federation. Your federation representative will help you obtain support through your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and answer your questions regarding access to sick leave, long-term disability (LTD) and workplace accommodations.
For personal support, rely on a trusted family member, friend or faith leader. People close to you can be a caring source of support during difficult times. Self-help groups and other local community services may also offer practical advice and guidance to help you manage your depression.
Returning to Work
Your return-to-work program will be structured according to the recommendations of your doctor or therapist. If you require workplace accommodations, your ETFO local federation representative will help you make the appropriate arrangements with your board.
Sometimes, a gradual return to work is the best approach. As you progress from part-time to full-time hours, you can set your own pace for recovery and experience the success of each new accomplishment.
For many people, returning to work is one of the best ways to overcome the isolation and sadness associated with depression.
Depression can be treated successfully. Take the first step towards recovery and talk to your doctor today.
Members are advised to consult Professional Relations Services staff at 416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836 for additional advice.