Fighting Depression at Work

fighting depression at work“Fighting depression” does not appear on any job description.

Conducting job duties — no matter how menial or how daunting — has never been an issue for me. In one job, I faithfully took a former boss’s clothes to and from the cleaners. In another, I had the pleasure of demonstrating a business solution for those who run a global corporation. Due to past traumas that occurred during previous jobs, however, I constantly fight an inner war against depression.

The most depressing part of my past was looking forward to working at a new job and being told by new supervisors that they looked forward to working with me — only to find later that I failed to perform at my job.

For my first major job after graduating from college, I was hired by a state government. When first hired, I was told how impressive my work was. Not only did I feel an incredibly huge sense of job security, but this was the time when I met the woman who would someday become my wife.

Less than a year later, though, my supervisor fired me in front of my new wife. During this event, my supervisor recited my mistakes. She mentioned that I not only performed poorly but I lacked confidence, as well. The sad thing is that she previously documented that my work ethic made me a reliable employee, even though I had trouble performing. Not only that, the women who ran this department were actually using government property to exchange male pornography, discuss sexual enhancement devices, and use e-mail referencing the television program “Gilligan’s Island.”

I’m always thinking, “Umm, I’m the one who was fired?” I will never recover from being fired in front of my wife. I think about this every day at work, even 17 years later.

After failing as a state employee, I settled into the role of a business software engineer. I had a hard time holding a job, however, due to mistakes that I had made and outright lies told about me to my supervisors by customers. Understanding business is hard enough. But configuring software for business comes with stress, self-doubt, and much embarrassment.

Instead of implementing software for multiple companies, I now work for one company. I have a supervisor who tells me that I need to work on my self-perception. In fact, he tells me that I’m too hard on myself.
This sounds wonderful. But the seeds of depression that were planted by previous supervisors have created a responsibility that I’m bound to perform every day, battling thoughts of depressing episodes from my past.

I wish that I could explain what keeps me going. In fact, I have even had to force myself to stop pondering the question, “What was the point of working so hard in college?”

Decades from now, when I’m making arrangements for my final resting place, I will ensure that my headstone displays the following epitaph: “At least he tried!” As disturbing as that sounds, at least it’s an honorable and impressive evaluation of my job performance.


Fighting Depression at Work
Fighting Depression at Work

Surprising links between bullying and eating disorders

Being bullied in childhood has been associated with increased risk for anxiety, depression and even eating disorders. But according to new research, it’s not only the victims who could be at risk psychologically, but also the bullies themselves.

Researchers at Duke Medicine and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine were surprised to find that in a study of 1,420 children, those who bullied others were twice as likely to display symptoms of bulimia, such as bingeing and purging, when compared to children who are not involved in bullying. The findings are published in the December issue of International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Clinical Psychologist Somerset West“For a long time, there’s been this story about bullies that they’re a little more hale and hearty,” said lead author William Copeland, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. “Maybe they’re good at manipulating social situations or getting out of trouble, but in this one area it seems that’s not the case at all. Maybe teasing others may sensitize them to their own body image issues, or afterward, they have regret for their actions that results in these symptoms like binge eating followed by purging or excess exercise.”

The findings come from an analysis of interviews from the Great Smoky Mountains Study, a database with more than two decades of health information on participants who enrolled at age 9. The data is considered a community sample and not representative of the U.S. population, but offers clues to how children ages 9 to 16 could be affected.

Participants were divided into four categories — children who were not at all involved in bullying; victims of bullying; children who sometimes were victims and sometimes were instigators; and children who were solely bullies, repeatedly abusing other children verbally and physically, socially excluding others, and rumor mongering, without ever becoming a victim themselves.

The researchers were not surprised to find that victims of peer abuse were generally at increased risk for eating disorders.

Children who were victims of bullying were at nearly twice the risk of displaying symptoms of anorexia (11.2 percent prevalence compared to 5.6 percent of children who were not involved in bullying) and bulimia (27.9 percent prevalence compared to 17.6 percent of children not involved in bullying).

Children who were both bullies and victims had the highest prevalence of anorexia symptoms (22.8 percent compared to 5.6 percent of the children not involved in bullying) and also the highest prevalence of binge eating (4.8 percent of children as compared to less than 1 percent of uninvolved children) and vomiting as a way to maintain their weight.

But the impact of bullying behavior on those who were bullies was also significant, with 30.8 percent of bullies having symptoms of bulimia compared to 17.6 percent of children not involved in bullying.

All of these behaviors can have devastating effects on the long-term health of children, said Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., a distinguished professor of eating disorders at the UNC School of Medicine and a co-author on the findings.

“Sadly, humans do tend to be most critical about features in other people that they dislike most in themselves,” Bulik said. “The bullies’ own body dissatisfaction could fuel their taunting of others. Our findings tell us to raise our vigilance for eating disorders in anyone involved in bullying exchanges — regardless of whether they are the aggressor, the victim, or both.”

Although many children experience lifelong effects, many appear to cope and succeed after such experiences, Copeland said. He and colleagues are examining myriad factors, including looking at financial and educational outcomes, and even if bullying or being victimized is associated with genetic biomarkers.

“We want to do a better job of understanding why some people are able to experience the same things as others and be able to get through them without the same consequences,” Copeland said. “We really need to understand the resilience in those who have been bullied. That can help us determine the children who are going to need the most attention, and how we can promote those traits in others to increase their resilience.”

Story Source: The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Duke University Medical Center.

Mentally and emotionally healthy

Emotional Improvement | Being mentally and emotionally healthy does not preclude the experiences of life which we cannot control. As humans we are going to face emotions and events that are a part of life. According to Smith and Segal, “People who are emotionally and mentally healthy have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook in which they also remain focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good”(2011). In addition unemployment has been shown to have a negative impact on an individual’s emotional well-being, self-esteem and more broadly their mental health. Increasing unemployment has been show to have a significant impact on mental health, predominantly depressive disorders. This is an important consideration when reviewing the triggers for mental health disorders in any population survey. In order to improve your emotional mental health, the root of the issue has to be resolved.

“Prevention emphasizes the avoidance of risk factors; promotion aims to enhance an individual’s ability to achieve a positive sense of self-esteem, mastery, well-being, and social inclusion” (Power, 2010).


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