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How does depression differ from occasional sadness?

Everyone occasionally feels sad or "blue," but these feelings tend to pass quickly. By contrast, someone with depression experiences extreme sadness or despair that lasts for at least two weeks or longer. Depression interferes with activities of daily living — such as working or concentrating on tasks, or even eating and sleeping. Individuals with depression tend to feel helpless and hopeless and to blame themselves for having these feelings. People who have depression may become overwhelmed and exhausted and stop participating in certain everyday activities altogether. They may withdraw from family and friends. Some individuals with depression may have thoughts of death or suicide. If you or a loved one are in immediate crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

How common is it?

Clinical depression is more common than most people think. One-fourth of all women and one-eighth of all men will suffer at least one episode or occurrence of depression during their lifetimes.

Can it be treated?

Yes, depression is treatable. Between 80 and 90 percent of people with depression - even the most serious forms - can be helped. Symptoms can be relieved with therapy/counseling, medications or a combination of both. The most important step toward treating depression - and sometimes the most difficult - is asking for help.

What causes depression?

Depression can affect anyone — even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances. But several factors can play a role in the onset of depression, including biochemistry, genetics, personality, and environmental factors.

What can I do to relieve on-the-job stress?

Fortunately, there are many ways to help manage job-related stress. Some programs blend relaxation techniques with nutrition and exercise. Others focus on specific issues such as time management, assertiveness training, and improving social skills. A qualified mental health counselor can help you pinpoint the causes of your stress, and develop appropriate coping strategies.


Here are some other tips for dealing with stress on the job:


  • Make the most of workday breaks. Even 10 minutes of "personal time" will refresh your mental outlook. Take a brief walk, chat with a co-worker about a non-job topic, or simply sit quietly with your eyes closed and breathe.
  • If you feel angry, walk away. Mentally regroup by counting to 10, then look at the situation again. Walking and other physical activities will also help you work off steam.
  • Set reasonable standards for yourself and others. Don't expect perfection. Talk to your employer about your job description.
    Your responsibilities and performance criteria may not
    accurately reflect what you are doing. Working together
    to make needed changes will not only benefit your
    emotional and physical health, but also improve the
    organization's overall productivity.