Accounting and depression (The link)
In this blog we will discuss the issues of Depression in the field of Accounting.
We will also discuss the prevalence, causes, as well as what are some of the best ways an accountant can cope with depression and manage their mental health.
Depression in Accounting
Depression amongst professionals in accounting careers is relatively high. A study conducted on accountants found that the main cause for depression and poor mental health amongst accountants was increasing workload.
Being an accountant can be extremely stressful because it is a high-risk job with high competition with working hours, pressure and a heavy workload.
According to the statistics by ICAEW, 30.4% of accountants suffer from poor mental health. 51% admit that they suffer from depression and anxiety and 43.5% of them believe that their job is the main contributor to their depression and stress.
For most accountants, their struggle with depression and poor mental health begin from the time they have to prepare for the CA exam that is extremely difficult and hard to crack.
Even if they do manage to get through the exam, after passing the test and getting a job, they are thrown into an environment that gives them a huge workload while also expecting them to meet the deadlines.
The workload and intense pressure of the job has them constantly on edge, leaving them in a chronic state of high stress and deterroritation mental health.
A study was conducted on 168 accountants where they tried to find a correlation between mental workload and depression and anger symptoms and interpersonal sensitivities.
The results of the study suggested a positive correlation between mental workload and the symptoms and conditions, the study also showed that there is a positive correlation between increasing workload and an increase in depression and anger symptoms and interpersonal sensitivities.
The researchers of this study suggested that the accountants’ symptoms significantly affect their physical and mental health, work, quality of life and satisfaction.
The researchers also speculated that the stress and depressive symptoms can be reduced by reducing their working hours and their workload, going on vacations and practising activities that make them happy.
Why are accountants depressed?
The causes for depression in accountants are:
Lack of acknowledgement
The work that they do does not add any real value to the company or help the company progress. The work that they do simply keeps the companies’ finances in place and does not directly help the company progress, but simply keeps it stable and running smoothly.
Other people do not view accountants as people of value. They simply see them as people who deal with taxes and nothing more, which truly is not the case (unless the person is a tax accountant). This image that the others have about them, affects the image the accountant has about themselves and their job.
Long work hours
Accountants work for hours on end, especially during the peak financial season or at the end of the fiscal term. The long duration of work and uncertainty of it mentally and physically exhausts the person. Due to working from home, the accountants’ hours were extended further and were made to work at any given time when needed by the company. The work environment became even more stressful and exhausting.
Lack of Balance
Accountants face or have to deal with a lot of work. The weight of the workload after a point starts crushing them as it mentally drains them.
They find it difficult to balance their work and personal life. The long hours and heavy workload lead to them having no time for themselves or their loved ones. They often spend very little time with their families. This leads to strained relationships which in turn affects their mental health. They cannot find time to care for themselves, and practise their hobbies.
After a point, the job becomes very sedentary and boring. Even if they wished to switch fields, they would be unable to as they are not specialised in that area, and will have to start from a newbie level which is not beneficial financially
High risk job
Accountants are always on edge about their jobs. They worry if they are the next ones to be removed from the company.
Companies are constantly looking for ways to reduce the manpower and hence save money. Even an update in the software can be a stressor among accountants because they are under continued pressure to be updated and on their toes within the corporate world.
Lack of creativity and spontaneity
The job does not encourage creativity. It is a very detail oriented high-risk job, where mistakes are to be avoided hence, they have strict rules and regulations that need to be followed.
There is a lack of spontaneity and this rigid and mundane role of accountant, especially for people who do not like tsuch structure, can ultimately lead to burnout.
Lack of support
They do not receive any support from the company and are not treated correctly by the heads of their department. They are simply seen as machines that don’t require or need support or help.
Oftentimes, they are seen as problem solvers and people who work behind the scenes. They also work with rude clients who do not see them as people but as workers, this can be dehumanising and ultimately lead to feeling worthless.
How can accountants take care of their mental health and cope with depression?
Some of the ways by which accountants can cope with depression are:
Talking to a profession or taking a closer look at what boundaries are can help you acknowledge your own limitations without judgement and plan your life around it. Boundaries do not limit you but rather it can mark the space upon which you can grow and flourish.
Identifying and setting your boundaries involves understanding and awareness of what you can and cannot do- emotionally and physically. It is about stepping back and letting go when you know that holding on or pushing through- even if it is for your students or the administration- is only going to hurt you.
Building boundaries is not giving up or shutting people out. Rather it allows us to take stock of what we do have and what we can do to get better results rather than following tradition and old ways of being.
When we talk about change we are talking about making changes in your lifestyle- the way you manage your time, your priorities, your balance between work, family, and you.
Make changes in ways that are feasible, small changes that can possibly have a big impact in the long run. For example, 15 mins of yoga in the morning, or a walk in the evenings.
Make changes in your perspectives, about the world, you, your job, and others. Make changes in the way you think as you get ready for work, and the way you talk to your students. You cannot change them but you can change how you perceive them and that might make a difference.
It is important that you get started on improving your physical health but taking part in various activities that get you off your chair and moving.
Running, paddle boarding, going for a walk with a friend, doing aerobics, or yoga are only a few of the ways that you can get active which can result in higher spirits, healthier relationships, and less isolation.
Hang out with friends
Feeling connected with other people can be so healing to those experiencing empathy fatigue and depression.
Take time to go out of your way, push yourself to reach out to people you trust and care for you and talk about what you are struggling with.
Choose to allow yourself to be loved and cared for by them and allow yourself to be vulnerable with those who want to help you. It might be scary but social connection and a sense of belonging and love is crucial to your mental health.
Appreciate the little things.
Take time to be mindful about the things you have in your life that makes your living easier or more happier. Be grateful for them.
It could be your family members, your pet, or the fact that you have a car to commute with instead of standing in the hot sun waiting for the bus. Sometimes when we focus on the negatives for too long, we forget to appreciate what is already going on in our lives.
Take a moment of your day to reflect on the things that make you comfortable or happy, and let that gratitude be part of your daily life and the way you see your life.
Seek professional help
If the individual feels that the pressure is getting to them and they are facing symptoms of depression and anxiety they could seek help and find a therapist that could guide them through their emotions and their feelings.
Depression can be deadly if it is left untreated. Many people can struggle with accepting the diagnosis itself while others may find themselves hopeful because of the validation that they aren’t just making up their struggle.
If you have not been diagnosed, do not stick to self diagnosis based on your symptoms. Seek out professional consultations starting with your GP who can refer you to specialists in the field.
Once you have been diagnosed, seek help. This means seeking the right kind of doctor and therapist for you. Be patient and take the time to consult with different doctors and professionals who are able to understand what you are going through.
Change your career course.
This can be a little extreme, a last resort option. But if you find yourself struggling mentally and physically it could be time that you step away from your role- to try something else that can give you more satisfaction, or maybe take an extended break to rest and work on recovery, or to learn new skills to cope.
You can also seek out career counsellors who can help you figure out new goals and strategies with which you can progress on to another role to help you grow.
In this blog we have discussed the issues of Depression in the field of Accounting.
We also discussed the prevalence, causes, as well as what are some of the best ways an accountant can cope with depression and manage their mental health.
‘Almost 34% Accountants are Suffering from Poor Mental Health. Here’s how to fix it’ – Affinity. Retrieved on 29th April 2022.
Azzem Ozkana,, Mahmut Özdevecioğlu, Yasemin Kayac and Filiz Özşahin Koç
Ozkana, AOz Devecioglu B, M., Kayak , Y., & Koçd, F. Ö. (2014, February 27). Effects of mental workloads on depression–anger symptoms and interpersonal sensitivities of accounting professionals. Retrieved April 30, 2022, from https://www.elsevier.es/es-revista-revista-contabilidad-spanish-accounting-review-368-pdf-S1138489114000326
‘Mental Health for Accountants’. Cyre Sourcing. Retrieved on 29th April 2022.