AS@W Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with Mood Problems in the Workplace
Making Decisions About Workplace Depression
Should I take time off work?

Individuals who are experiencing depression will sometimes decide to take time away from work. This decision is an important one and will vary from person to person depending on their circumstances. Making this decision requires that you consider the extent to which your mood problem is impairing your job performance.

We encourage a problem-solving approach to decide the advantages and disadvantages of work absence. This might be a collaborative decision between you, your family, your healthcare provider, employer and/or union. Who to include in this process will depend on the individuals you have informed about your current situation.

It may also be useful to speak to your employer about the possibility of accommodation in the workplace. Some examples of accommodation would be a reduced work week or work day, or reduced job duties. Staying at work with accommodation is often preferable to stopping work altogether.

The table below can help you to decide whether time off work is advisable and, if so, for how long and for what purpose.

There is no universally correct decision with respect to taking time from work due to depression. If you decide to stay at work, consider what steps you can take to reduce factors playing a role in your depressed mood, and what steps you can take to ensure that your workplace supports your self-care efforts. If you decide you need to take time off, use that time as an opportunity for active recovery and participation in your own care. In general, the longer people are away from work the more difficult it is to return. So, it is important that you work with your healthcare providers and others to estimate a realistic duration of absence and to develop an active and specific treatment and recovery plan.

Benefits & Costs of Absence from Work

Benefits Costs
Gives you a break from workplace demands or issues that may be contributing to stress and depressed mood, allowing you to regain your energy and reserves. You may become inactive and self-doubting (psychologically deconditioned) without the structure and routine offered by work.
Provides you with the time and opportunity to engage in activities that will assist with your recovery. This may include attending medical or counseling appointments or engaging in some of the activities you have identified in the Reactivating Your Life section of this book. You may become isolated from the usual social contacts afforded b y your workplace, a factor likely to worsen mood problems.
Reduces the risk of a work-related incident or injury that may harm you, your coworkers or members of the public. This is particularly important if depressed mood has significantly impacted your concentration or judgment and if you work in a safety-sensitive job. You will not be in a position to address any workplace factors that were contributing to your depressed mood. So, they are likely still to be there when you return.
  There are financial costs of lost time for you and your family – this will partially depend on the nature of the absence/disability program within your organization.


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