woman suffering from depression

Are You Suffering From Depression, Anxiety, Drug Abuse or Sleep Deprivation?

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Could Depression or Three Other Disorders Be Damaging Your Career?

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In any given year, 19.1 million Americans  (ages 18-54) have an anxiety disorder. Some individuals meet the criteria for more than one anxiety disorder (National Institute of Mental Health). The National Institutes of Health cautions that approximately eight million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. A company that drug tests employees said 4.4% of the employees they tested last year were positive for drugs, compared with 4.6% in 2001 and 13.6% in 1988 (4Therapy.com). Substance abuse is coming down in the workplace, or so it appears. Nonetheless it is still a tragic problem for the many employees who still use drugs.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there are 84 sleep disorders. As more and more workers are drifting into shift work, the number of sleep-disordered individuals in our society will rise. lt appears that we are heading toward 24/7 business hours. Shift work is notorious for stressing the natural sleep cycle. My clients that are cops normally work 12- hour shifts, which change periodically. As soon as their bodies adapt to one shift, it is time to move to another. Many shift-working police officers are sleep deprived. Remember, they can speed when on emergency calls and they carry guns. Do you want them to be half asleep?

Depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and sleep deprivation are the Big Four of ruined careers. The human toll in misery and impaired quality of life is impossible to estimate. In the human equation, we must consider divorces, families separated, careers lost, physical and emotional pain, lost identity and shattered self-confidence. The Big Four are very treatable disorders. First, they must be diagnosed.

Depression: The Dark Stranger

Have you noticed that you don’t want to go to work? When you get there, you are tired and each task seems too demanding to tackle. You have difficulty making decisions, and you can’t seem to remember important details. Interacting with your eo-workers is more exhausting than it is worth. Why bother? You are often sad and irritable and just want to be left alone. You never seem to be hungry and insomnia has robbed you of healthful sleep. You keep putting off that project your boss wanted last week. He has asked you what is wrong and has strongly suggested that you should get back on track. You see your career slowly disintegrating before your eyes and there does not seem to be a thing you can do about it. Truthfully, you can’t find the energy to be too distraught about that either. There is a name for your cluster of symptoms; it is called depression, and 80% of the time it responds quite well to medication and therapy. Remember, depression is not you, anymore than the flu or a cold is you.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse: The Career Thief

You are drinking  more-not a big deal, you can handle it. You need it to relax a little. That is what you tell yourself. Recently, you started taking a little eye-opener before leaving for work. You have not been sleeping well and are irritable and short tempered. You drink alone and secretly most of the time. Lunch is a good reason for a couple of mixed drinks. While your companions eat, you down “a couple for the road.” Your significant other is always bringing up your drinking, as if it were a problem. You told her to stay off your back. You can handle it. You don’t have to drink. You enjoy it. Your work is beginning to suffer, your memory is spotty, and your reports are not up to your standards or your boss’ expectations. Why can’t she just leave you alone? You can always find a better job than this one.  You are frequently late for work or just call in sick. When did that start? You used to enjoy your work. The boss wants to see you again. What now?

This scenario and cluster of symptoms is indicative of alcohol abuse, which is also very treatable. Left untreated, it could destroy your career and your relationships. The only relationship that will be left intact will be your relationship with alcohol.

Anxiety: The Prison

You don’t enjoy going to work anymore. You feel jittery and stressed out. You want to just stay in your home because you feel panicky when you go out. You have had strange symptoms recently. You thought that you were having a heart attack, but you didn’t die. You feel as if you are going to jump out of your skin sometimes. Recently, your heart was beating so fast you couldn’t understand how it continued at that pace. Often, you breathe in quick and shallow little breaths. That is strange. At work you break out in a cold sweat and feel vaguely sick, especially when you are under duress. Your supervisor always wants more. You are doing the best you can. You are afraid that someone will notice your bizarre symptoms, but no one has said anything. If everyone would just leave you alone you could relax. They constantly ask about your work. Your projects are late or you forget about them altogether. The stress is unbearable. You feel as if you will run out of the office screaming one day. You are terrified of losing control. They don’t give you the big projects anymore. But that is all right. Who needs the hassle? You can’t do anymore.

This scenario and cluster of symptoms represent severe anxiety and panic attacks. I have found, in my professional experience, that anxiety is extremely treatable. I am pleased when I learn that a new client has an anxiety disorder, because I know the treatment will probably be successful and brief. I love happy conclusions. Medication and therapy can bring relief in a relatively short period.

Do you have any symptoms of depression? Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you abuse alcohol or drugs? Are you getting sufficient sleep (seven to nine hours per night)? Let’s find out.

Do you have depressive symptoms? Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you abuse alcohol or drugs? Are you getting sufficient sleep (seven to nine hours per night)? Let’s find out. Indicate whether or not you have the following symptoms by choosing “Yes” if you do and “No” if you don’t.

Do You Have a Potential Work Interference?


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Alcohol Abuse

1. I usually drink alone.
2. Iam frequently absent from work because of alcohol or a drug.
3. I have been told that I drink too much.
4. I have trouble limiting the amount of alcohol I drink.
5. I have less control when I drink.
6. I am stressed when I get home, I need alcohol to help me relax.


© 2016, Dr. Dorothy McCoy. All rights reserved.