Depression in the Workplace
Depression is a serious medical condition that affects the body, mood, and thoughts. It can impact the way one eats, sleeps, and functions. Depression is not the same as a passing blue mood. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, often involving medication and counseling, can help most people who suffer from depression. You may notice changes in an employee’s behavior, mood, or appearance.
What You Might See in the Workplace
- Persistent sad and empty mood
- Communicating a sense of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, pessimism
- Uncharacteristic drop in productivity or increase in absences
- Signs of substance misuse
- Fatigue; loss of interest in ordinary activities
- Disturbances in eating patterns, which may result in noticeable weight loss or gain
- Crying, anxiety, or panic attacks
- Fallout from sleep problems, such as tardiness or sleepiness
- Irritability, agitation, conflict, anger issues
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment
- Veiled or direct talk of suicide
Not all people with depression will show all symptoms or have them in the same degree. These concerns may also be indicators of issues other than depression. It’s not your job to make a diagnosis if you notice these signs. The goal is to help the person connect with an Employee Assistance program (EAP), if available through the employer, or with mental health support and services available to them.
How You Might Approach a Person Showing Signs of Depression
Be sensitive to the need for privacy. If you’re initiating the conversation, approach and talk in a private setting.
Start with a focus on performance issues you’ve noticed. “I’ve noticed that you are struggling to meet the weekly quota. That’s unusual for you. I am concerned about you. Can you tell me about what’s going on?” Don’t ask about personal problems or depression directly, but listen to their concerns and be alert for these issues.
Show compassion. Let the person know you care and that they are valued. Don’t give advice. Remember that you don’t have to “fix” them. Really listening can make a difference.
If your company provides an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), tell them about the EAP and give them the number and/or a brochure. If there is a significant impact in the workplace, consider a management consultation with the EAP to further discuss options for the employee.
If your company does not provide an EAP, you can recommend they contact their health care plan for a referral to a mental health professional or speak with their family doctor. Go to Cigna's
For additional information you can also visit:
I want to...
Secure Member Sites
The Cigna Group Information
Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see
All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.