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At some point in our lives, everyone experiences a level of depression. When your depression seems focused on work, it can be hard to determine if your job is responsible, or if something bigger is happening.

If you work full-time, you likely spend around half of your waking hours (or more) at work. You may also spend additional time thinking about it even when you aren’t there.

Symptoms of depression can be highly apparent at work. You may find it difficult to complete your job duties or do everything in your power to avoid having to come in at all. But, before you quit your job as a possible solution, it is important to figure out what is actually going on.

Situational Depression

Situational depression is technically classified as an adjustment disorder; it results from a particular set of circumstances and does not meet all of the characteristics of a true mental disorder. While the symptoms can be life-altering and should be treated seriously, they tend to resolve themselves once the situation changes.

Clinical Depression

Major depressive disorder can be affected by circumstance, but the true cause goes deeper. Often, a chemical imbalance is at least partially responsible, and symptoms may not ease even when the situation improves. The severity of symptoms may fluctuate, but they play a consistent role in a person’s life. However, with proper treatment, the symptoms can be effectively managed.

Read more: How to get back up after life kicks you in the teeth

Is it Work?

If the stress began outside of work, but the symptoms have made maintaining employment difficult, your job may be suffering due to issues in other areas of your life.

Unpleasant working conditions can cause situational depression and aggravate major depressive disorder. This makes it more challenging to determine if the work is fully responsible or just a catalyst to an episode of a chronic condition. To make it worse and difficult, tips for managing work depression are often vague and may not help you identify the true source of the issue.

The first step in determining whether your job is to blame for your depression, it is best to seek the care of a mental health professional. They will be able to help you work through the questions and thoughts that will help determine if a change of job would fix the issue or if you are dealing with something greater.

For example, if you had been at your job (happily) for five years, but ended up with a new boss who treats you poorly, the situation surrounding your workplace may be to blame. However, if you have been at the same job for years, becoming progressively more depressed, and have felt similar shifts throughout the rest of your life, there may be something bigger.

Additionally, if the stress began outside of work, but the symptoms have made maintaining employment difficult, your job may be suffering due to issues in other areas of your life. If those issues resolve, you may find your workplace more enjoyable.

Read more: How to manage your body and get that desired job

Think before you quit

In cases where your workplace is dangerous or abusive, then quitting might be your best move.

While quitting your job is an option, it may not be the right move at the beginning. For example, those suffering from major depression may have found any job unbearable during the height of their symptoms. That means you could quit your job only to find no reprieve once the act was done. And that would leave you depressed and newly jobless. If you relied on your income to survive, then your symptoms may get worse as you look for new opportunities.

However, if your depression is truly caused by your job, then you still might want to act more thoughtfully before jumping ship. You may want to begin looking for a new job before you quit your current one, allowing you to transition from one place of employment straight into the next.

In cases where your workplace is dangerous or abusive, then quitting might be your best move. By seeking help from a mental health professional, they can work with you to determine the true nature of your depression. That way you can make an intelligent and informed choice that will help you secure a better future for yourself, which is really the goal you should be pursuing.

This piece was first published in Life hack.

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