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December 18, 2014 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Am I depressed, or do I hate my job?

Question:

I absolutely hate my job right now and I feel depressed. Am I depressed because I hate my job or do I hate my job because I am depressed? I just celebrated my one year anniversary at my job, and I pray that I will win the lottery - or at least get a notice in the mail for jury duty so that I don't have to go to work. I am currently looking for a new position; however, I have a mortgage so I can't quit until I find a job with an equivalent salary. I could give you a whole list of why I don't like my job: such as inconsistent management policies, low morale, having to work constant overtime just to keep up with everything (I'm on salary so I'm not getting paid for this extra time), uninformed upper management. If however, I am really depressed and that is WHY I hate my job, then once I find a new job I'm still going to feel just as tired, uninterested, unmotivated as I feel now. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

DJ (31 year-old woman) from Denver, Colorado

Answer:

It's not "either/or." It's probably both.

Extreme depression is likely to be a medical condition which requires medication. But, since you are able to hold a job, your level of depression is less severe. Mild or moderate depression is almost always about suppressed anger.

If you have been mildly or moderately depressed at various times in your life, you will probably notice that these were always times when you were angry but you didn't express it well enough. Certainly an employment situation is one of the most common of these. Even the most assertive employee isn't likely to feel safe about expressing all of their anger at work.

If you don't recall much previous depression in your life, then your employment is probably the root of your problem and finding a better job quickly will bring major improvement.

Remember that all emotions have a "natural duration." They take a certain amount of time to "use up" or "get over".

If you are mistreated at work each day, if you are in a relationship in which you are continually mistreated, or if you must deal with chronic pain of any kind, you experience "overlapping anger." You can't express all of your anger because the next anger-inducing incident comes along before you've had enough time to express your anger over the last incident!

In situations like this, the only way to overcome all of your depression is to change situations (although you can definitely get some relief by expressing only portions of it too).

One other thing to consider is whether you might have a lot of anger about something away from work but you find it difficult to admit this to yourself. You could be "trying to believe" that it's all about work when work is only a small portion of the problem.

Even if you weren't depressed at all, your dissatisfaction would be enough to suggest a need to change jobs.

Thanks for the excellent question!

Tony Schirtzinger, ACSW

This question was answered by Tony Schirtzinger.

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