The Career Coach is In

Is it the job, or is it depression?


My wife tells me that I haven't been happy since I took this job three years ago.  I don't see any options, but she wants me to change jobs. What should i do?


Do you agree that you have been unhappy lately?  If so, that's the starting point for a discussion about what to do next.  It could be the job, but it could be that you are depressed and that you will feel the same way no matter what job you have. Or it could be a combination--some depression mixed with a less-than-thrilling job has really laid you low.

Before buffing up the resume and starting a job search, schedule a full physical with your doctor to make sure that there aren't any underlying medical issues that can be affecting your mood and energy. Then, get a referral to a good psychiatrist and get a full evaluation for depression. If that's what is going on, then you have to get that under control before considering a job search. If you are depressed, you won't be able to see any options--depression makes us feel like we don't have any--and you probably won't have much energy for a job search.

Once you have determined if depression is part of the equation, and addressed that with therapy, medication or a combination thereof, you'll be in a much better position to determine if a different job is part of the solution.

It's possible that another job will contribute to a lifting of the depression, but also possible that a lifting of the depression will make the current job look better. The only way to know how to proceed is to rule out or deal with the depression.


Karen Chopra

 |  March 1, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Category:  Career Change , Job Search Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I know depression is part of it and it is treated. I have therapy every other week and a cocktail of four antidepressants (I think my psychiatrist is guessing). I notice a before and after difference taking my medicine in the morning.

Without antidepressant treatment I would shut down at best. At worst I would need supervision for suicide precaution.

I learned in college that depression treatment often takes three months, but I expect to be medicated for life.

Posted by: cmarshdtihqcom | March 1, 2010 8:43 PM
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Nothing lasts forever.

My job description changed. It looks like we used to go after government contracts as a smaller company, but now we are much too big to compete, and besides, the Obama administration wants to do its work in house when it can.

Web design was fun but Web design is gone. It is sort of like one of those programs on the History Channel depicting the migration of animal herds and what a Neanderthal clan will do, migrate or perish.

I seem to be in a holding pattern doing menial college-student-level administrative duties while a decision is made about me, and I am strongly encouraged to follow several others out of here into the Federal governmment.

That seems to leave only one, maybe two, tech visas left here of an original team of as many as six. I don't think the fact that I have a pending security clearance is going to change that.

Obviously I can't turn back the clock to 2007 or 2005, but I can go to another, smaller government contractor or to the government itself.

I don't miss the job description. I will miss the people. If you are treated well, consider yourself lucky. Hope that you will be treated well next time. Managers vary widely in professionalism (keeping feelings out of work). This time I lucked out.

Posted by: cmarshdtihqcom | March 1, 2010 6:53 PM
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You say: rule out depression first.

Do you mean economic depression?

Because the fact 20-30 million people are looking for work, real income has declined over the last decade, and management is behaving badly in this environment, is undoubtably contributing to "unhappiness" at work and at home.

If you are saying, first rule out our current economic depression as a major part of feeling lousy over the past few years, I couldn't agree with you more.

If you are saying within the context of our current economic environment, look first for a medical diagnosis of the unhappiness/discomfort experienced by millions, during a period when our entire global economic system/workplace structures/ways of life, are going through a transformation of a magnitude, not seen since the industrial revolution...

then I just have to laugh.

Posted by: secretscribe | March 1, 2010 1:08 PM
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