How depression and anxiety can affect you at work

Depression and anxiety are both very common mental health problems. In the UK, 3.3% of the population suffers from clinical depression, while 5.9% have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety and depression also often occur together. Mixed depression and anxiety affects 7.8% of the population. Which is a very significant number of people.

Depression and anxiety are unfortunate bedfellows. Their symptoms can overlap. Moreover, one mental health issue can contribute to another. For example, not being able to function due to depression can set off intense, out-of-control, and persistent feelings of dread and worry. And struggling with anxiety can lead to the kind of low self-esteem that characterises depression.

When you have both depression and anxiety, it can really interfere with your work. It’s important to be aware of these disruptions at work, in case you have an underlying mental health issue that needs addressing.


Trouble concentrating


One symptom that depression and anxiety share in common is trouble concentrating. This can manifest at work in all sorts of ways. It can make it a real struggle to focus on the task at hand, solve problems, collaborate with your team, or feel engaged during meetings.

We all struggle with concentrating at work, from time to time. We might be bored, distracted, or procrastinating. However, when you can’t resolve concentration problems by improving your habits or time management, then the issue may be deeper. If depression and anxiety are making it difficult for you to concentrate, then it’s important to help your boss understand why you might be falling behind at work.


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Low self-esteem


Having an anxiety disorder can lead to self-criticism and low self-esteem. You may judge yourself harshly for struggling with anxiety, even though you’re trying your best to cope with the chaos in your head. If your anxiety is getting in the way of work, you may start to think you’re a broken, hopeless case. This can lead to the kind of low self-esteem that so often accompanies depression.

When your self-esteem plummets, this can lead to many issues at work. You may lack the confidence to offer input; believing that no one cares about what you have to say, or that you have nothing valuable to share. Low self-esteem can also result in imposter syndrome, which is when you doubt your abilities and achievements so much that you come to believe you’re a fraud. It is rooted in feelings of inadequacy and the belief that you’re a failure. This may prevent you from showcasing your true capacities and, in turn, progressing in your role.

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Depression and anxiety can both be accompanied by irritability. Most of us will be snappy on occasion. We might be grumpy because we didn’t get much sleep or we’re hungry. But when you’re seemingly irritable for no reason, then it could be due to poor mental health.

Being frequently irritable at work can mean that little things become a massive problem and cause of frustration. Everyone gets on your nerves. You often feel intensely angry, annoyed, on edge, or uptight. You may say things to co-workers or your manager that are unpleasant, regrettable, or out-of-character. Irritability can make the workday incredibly tiring for you and everyone around you.

Again, it’s important to find out whether these difficult emotions are down to a mental health issue. This will help you to get the treatment you need, as well as ensure that your employer understands your situation.



Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs. He is particularly interested in self-development, psychology, mental health, and the future of work. Most of all, though, Sam is passionate about helping people find work that is meaningful and fulfilling. You can follow him on Twitter and find more of his work at