Workaholic Behavior and Depression

I came across the above article and it was interesting read, especially given my own perspective that I have been at many varying points a workaholic. Several of the patterns discussed were interesting to me as I’ve often wondered what correlations may existing between people who are driven to push at work or have a tendency to bulldog problems.

The uptick in symptoms in various areas including ADHD, OCD, anxiety and depression were eye opening. I typically split my time working remotely and working onsite with clients and one of the main aspects for me has been an ability to focus without being distracted. My background was initially as a programmer and later as a systems admin/analyst. As a result I’m used to having my head down to solve a problem. It’s possible the same characteristics that make me good at deep dive analysis unfortunately make me susceptible to other conditions such as anxiety and depression.

The mind works in so many different ways that I’d hardly call these findings conclusive but the pattern and potential implications may lead to better ways to head-off dangerous mental illness before it becomes too severe. I know my chosen profession is full of stress, turn over and requires a very distinct mindset to survive. Hopefully as HR and psychological processes improve resources will be available to help folks who may be on the bubble as I was in getting help.

Why Depression Is So Often A Joke

Few things in the world have as much stigma as mental health and depression certainly takes the cake. Among the most difficult things that I’ve had to observe is just how often depression is downplayed or joked about. A lot of it I think is that we have this weird three way split in how depression is defined.

There’s the dictionary term of depression which really just becomes a synonym with prolonged sadness. The social definition (or perhaps I should say the culture of depression) which most folks poke fun of by singling out people who seem more goth or emo. Lastly there is the clinical definition which while serious is often made the brunt of jokes or misunderstood entirely. 

The first definition I think often frames the context for the general population and leads to a lot of issues for the later definition. Everyone experiences depression as an emotion. I mean unless you’re either supremely fortunate or have some other neurological condition. So everyone comes to see it as something that passes and you get over. As a result folks view definitions two and three in that context. Emo folks are viewed as ‘faking sadness’ because it’s trendy while people suffering from clinical depression are viewed as ‘attention seekers’ or people who simply can’t ‘get over it’. Both cases do a disservice. 

While this month is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month I am often reminded that like other major social issues of the day, I feel like Mental Health Awareness as a general category is something that folks should in some small way be aware of all year long. To a few of my circle I’ve joked “mental health day” is every day when you are battling depression. I used to use humor as a shield and I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I contributed to the same problem of joking about depression.  I’ve hopefully learned to change my tune and I hope that gradually other folks start to understand the scope of it a bit more too.