The modern manager has a lot to answer for. While a large number of psychological conditions, such as depression and anxiety can be traced back to work pressures, many of these can be reduced or eliminated entirely by finding a new boss.
Meet Adjustment Disorder (AD). He’s Not Nice.
Also known as ‘situational depression,’ AD looks identical to depression when analysing the symptoms, but the cause is not part of the patient’s biological makeup. The cause or ‘stressor,’ is something that is occurring in the patient’s current circumstances. Common examples of this include bereavement following a relative’s death, anxiety after extreme trauma, or distress associated with a marriage breakup. All of these can result in depression-like symptoms that ease over time.
But bad bosses are one of the most common forms of adjustment disorder activation. Thousands of people around the world experience exactly what someone suffering from severe depression does and the cause is their manager.
Think about it for a moment.
Every day Anna goes to her office, where she is berated by a well-meaning but overly aggressive manager, who holds her in high regard. This manager believes that “diamonds are made under pressure,” and expects nothing but the best from her team.
Meanwhile, Anna has concerns about the stability of the company, the long-term viability of her position, and even whether she is the best person for the job. These concerns are compounded by increased pressures, poor communication and absolutely no attempt to bolster her self-esteem.
Anna, to “turn off her brain,” starts having a couple of glasses of wine each night. After a few months, she needs to drink in order to fall asleep but still finds herself waking up in the middle of the night, sweating and stressed. Afraid to take any annual leave, she starts bragging to others about how busy she is, and how she hasn’t had a holiday in a couple of years.
Now, Anna is demonstrating all the symptoms of severe depression, crippling anxiety and a certain amount of alcohol dependence. Her relationships suffer, and work becomes her primary social outlet.
Then, Anna gets fired. For a few weeks, the lack of stability and the stress associated with losing a job leads Anna even further into depression, but once she finds a new role – where she is treated courteously and professionally – the symptoms of depression subside.
Anna takes a holiday.
Anna meets new people.
Anna no longer has AD.
A bad boss and an unhealthy working environment, more often than not aren’t only contributing to your mental illness, they are responsible for it. It goes without saying that those who have a genetic predisposition towards depression cannot be cured by changing jobs, but a positive environmental shift makes a dramatic difference 99% of the time.
Unfortunately, when you are in the throngs of any form of depression – temporary or not – you are far less likely to take any proactive action. This isn’t limited to depression, when we are sad we do less than when we’re happy; it’s where the cliché of the shunned lover sitting on the couch with Rocky Road ice cream comes from. So, when someone you know may be a victim of adjustment disorder, the goal shouldn’t be too force them into some form of action they feel uncomfortable with. Rather, try to make them happy by doing something that they genuinely enjoy. Get them to the beach, go to the movies, have a coffee and a gossip…whatever it takes to move them out of their funk.
Because fun and happiness are often the antidotes for depression.