Working with Depression
When depression is in your life, it wages a war against you. You know it adds a long list of negatives and subtracts a longer list of positives. If depression had its way, you would lay in bed all week with no activity, no socialization and no chance to feel good about yourself. If you surrender to depression, depression wins the war.
Depression is only a part of your life, and you want to keep it that way. You constantly take steps to hold on to the positives in your life. You call your friends often to maintain the socialization. Exercise has become a larger part of your life because you have been reading about the benefits. Therapy has been helpful in focusing on steps to improve your self-esteem. What about work?
For many, work is a mixed experience. You may think that the cons of work outweigh the pros. You may think that it would be better to quit your job and stay home rather than go for another week, day or hour. For some, staying home is the best decision they could ever make. These people are in the minority, though. For the majority, work is one of the most positive coping skills your life can have.
Benefits of Working
Are you skeptical about working? Are you not so sure that working is a sure-fire depression buster? Consider these benefits of working:
- Structure and routine – Depression thrives in situation without routine. When there is no routine, depression can have even more influence over your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Work adds a natural routine through its structure. You know that you have to be there at 9 am everyday so you go through the motions of waking up, getting ready and getting out the door. This may seem tedious at times, but it outweighs the risks of too much free time.
- Socialization – Having a strong support system is essential for being a happy, well-rounded person. The problem is that, as adults, it becomes more difficult to meet new people on a regular basis. Without the access to new people, your support system will shrink from death, moves out of the area and growing apart. Work does well to force social interaction and build connections to people from similar backgrounds and ones in similar situations. Like any situation, not all coworkers will make ideal friends, but the social stimulation is always a plus.
- Finances – Perhaps the most obvious benefit of work is the money. Not that money is the ultimate goal in life, but when you need to eat, buy clothes and pay the rent, money comes in handy. Having stable finances allows you to better manage other stressors around you. When money is tight, all other stressors become amplified and depression grows.
- Identity – Who are you? Are you a chef, teacher or contractor? A career adds to your identity and provides a foundation for self-esteem and worth. People that cannot identify themselves in a profession can feel more out of place and awkward in a variety of settings. This discomfort paired with low self-esteem strengthens depressive symptoms.