About 18 percent of the population in Qatar suffers from depression, according to Dr Suhaila Ghuloum, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
A large number of such cases are associated with work related stress.
“Repeated work stress doubles the risk of depression,” said Suhaila Ghuloum.
According to her depression can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, and social, educational or economic status. It may be caused by a variety of factors including genetics, chemical imbalance, personality, physical disease and stressors. She said that people of working age, especially between the ages of 20 to 34, are at a higher risk for depression,
Causes of work stress are poor leadership, a hostile work environment, difficulty in achieving work-life balance, “job strain” or high job demands and low control over how the job gets done, and job insecurity.
Shame and the fear of stigma and dismissal prevent those with depression from seeking help.
Majority of people with depression try to hide their mental health difficulties to avoid workplace discrimination.
Persistent low mood, disturbed sleep, poor appetite, fatigue or physical complaints, irritability, poor self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness are the symptoms with depression. People who have depression may also resort to substance abuse, she added.
At work, depression may manifest in poor concentration, less productivity, more errors or accidents, tardiness, slowness in accomplishing work or missing deadlines, less motivation and enthusiasm, more complaints, difficulty in making decisions, problems with colleagues, isolation, and more sick leaves.
She emphasised the importance of promoting a culture of health – particularly mental health – in the workplace. It can be achieved through educating leaders and employees, having guidelines for employee intervention, reducing stressors at work, and offering employee assistance programmes.
Dr. Ghuloum urged managers to encourage employees who have depression to seek help, and to offer reassurance and reasonable flexibility at work to enable the person to better cope with stress. She also suggested ways co-workers can support colleagues who have depression, such as by emphasising the person’s value in the workplace and encouraging the person to seek help, avoiding blame, listening without judgment, and respecting the privacy of the person.
“Effective management of workplace stress and work-related depression promotes better productivity among employees, less sick leaves and better retention of skilled employees, therefore less turnover and recruitment costs for the employer,” she added.
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