Talking about depression can be really difficult. It’s important that you know the facts about depression and specifically, your depression because it’s on a scale. There is no one absolute diagnosis for depression as those who have experienced it will be at different spokes of the spectrum. For instance not everyone who is experiencing depression will be suicidal. Not everyone will be fatigued. It’s important to know what your specific symptoms are so that you can more easily and clearly know how to talk about depression at home or at work.

The World Health Organisation recently recognised burnout as a syndrome stemming from “chronic workplace stress.” Arianna Huffington wrote about this achievement “It’s a real milestone to have the World Health Organization for the first time include burnout in its handbook International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Burnout, according to the entry, is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It is characterized by three key factors: “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.” What this means is that we are more able to understand these problems and more efficiently address them.

It’s no secret that mental health is getting a voice (finally)with a number of strong campaigns including Heads Together by the Royals, the continued excellent work of charities such as Mind and a host of celebrities and influencers speaking out about their experiences for others to relate. The conversation surrounding mental health and its stigmas are starting to make a change whereby we can more easily talk about it, recognise it and manage it.

This is not necessarily the case in each and every household let alone each and every workplace. Most workplaces just add on some training for HR managers about mental health because of the amendment to the equality act which declares mental health as a disability. They are not necessarily the right people to be responsible for such a sensitive and complex health issue but at least change is being made. In reference to this, it’s essential that you know what you want from sharing that you have depression with your workplace beforehand. It will make the conversation easier for you (which will reduce unnecessary anxiety) and at least you can leave the conversation with some confidence. Comparatively at home, indeed there is a multitude of information out there now regarding mental health for those who are suffering and those who are in the support camps but you never really know how to live with something unless you actually experience it for yourself. To that end, depression does not come in one absolute diagnosis therefore the care and support you will need will differ person to person which is why it is so important to know and understand your depression and your needs before embarking on the conversation.

Here are some Coaching tips that can help to talk about depression at home or at work:

  • Have a look at Mind’s website for the legal aspects so you know where you stand when you have the conversation at work.

  • Raise your own awareness of your depression. Learn about it, read up on your symptoms and write down exactly what you’re going through and your triggers.

  • Clearly define a treatment plan, this includes medication, counselling, coaching and holistic healing.

  • Clearly define a management plan i.e. a plan that you have created to help manage your triggers or symptoms for both home and work. For instance at work you may be triggered by working late which cuts into the time you have carved out for yourself for treatment/management of the depression. At home it could be the expectations people have of you such as always doing the food shopping and cooking.

  • Plan your outcomes – this is probably the most important point. Planning what you want to get out of telling home or work is essential in order to manage your expectations whilst reducing the anxiety and overwhelm associated with sharing this sensitive information. Ask yourself and write down the answers to these questions: What do you need from work to help you? What do you think is a realistic ask from your workplace? What happens if they cannot accommodate you? What happens if your loved ones don’t understand your depression? How would you effectively communicate your needs without adding stress to either yourself or your loved one?

Taking care of you by yourself is a key first step in learning how to manage your depression. Signing up to appropriate treatments such as counselling and coaching can help you to raise your self awareness so that you can better understand yourself and then more effectively communicate how to talk about depression at home or at work. It is essential that you understand and address root causes – sometimes you can’t pinpoint where the depression came from which is why it’s essential to have the right treatment plan in place so that you can start managing your mind better. Taking time out away from your day to day is one of the most effective treatments you can give to yourself and probably my most highly recommended strategy to begin the journey back to self. Once you have a birds eye view of your life, you can start to understand what you need and how to communicate it.

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