Can you be fired for depression and anxiety?

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Page last updated: 28/10/2022

Can you be fired for depression and anxiety?

This blog answers questions about: Can you be fired for depression and anxiety? What is depression? What are the symptoms of depression? What are the treatment options for depression? What is Anxiety? What is the anatomy of anxiety? What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety? What are some ways to manage anxiety? What are the therapy options for anxiety?

Can you be fired for depression and anxiety?

According to the Americans with Disabilities acts (ADA) employees with mental concerns such as depression and anxiety cannot be discriminated.

This means individuals with depression and anxiety cannot legally be fired just because of their mental illness.

If any individual is fired because of their mental illness such as depression and anxiety they can file legal action against the company that fired them.

For the ADA to protect an individual they should have told their employers about their mental concerns. While many individuals are comfortable about sharing their mental illnesses voluntarily with their employers there might be many who aren’t due to the unpredictable reactions of their employers and other personal factors.

Most companies have a human resource department that employees can talk to instead of directly approaching the boss regarding their mental health concerns.

The human resource department is required to hold a background in psychology and be empathetic. Speaking to the HR department or a senior employer also helps provide reasonable accommodations for the concerned person.

These might involve a shift in work timings, therapist referrals, paid leaves, or an option for work from home.

Apart from the ADA, there are many other legal protections that an employee can use in their favor to take legal action towards the employers who fire them for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Can you be fired for depression and anxiety?

What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common serious mental health conditions that negatively impact how an individual feels and thinks.

Depression is associated with feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in daily activities, and drastic changes in the energy level and the daily routines of an individual.

Depression in itself can lead to other physical and emotional problems which can be detrimental to a person’s functioning.

The symptoms of depression can vary from individual to individual from mild to severe depending on various factors.

Studies indicate that depression affects about 15% of adults every year and one in every six people experience depression at some time in their life.

Although depression can occur at any age it is more common among teenagers and early adults. Research indicates that women are more vulnerable to depression than men.

What are the symptoms of depression?

The characteristic symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of sadness or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities enjoyed in the past
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns with very little sleep or long hours of sleep
  • Decrease in the level of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling guilty
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • In severe cases thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of depression must last up to two weeks and cause significant impairment in an individual’s daily functioning to meet the diagnosis of depression.

What are the treatment options for depression?

Depression though widespread is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. About 90% of the people with depression respond well to treatment.

Some possible treatment options for depression are

Medication

Antidepressants are very commonly prescribed by doctors to individuals with depression. These medications are not sedatives or tranquilizers. They generally do not have any stimulating effects on people who do not experience depression.

Antidepressants usually show their effects within a few weeks. However, in cases where patients do not see any improvement after several weeks, they can alter their doses based on the suggestions provided by their health care practitioners.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. It is used as a single mode of treatment for mild depression or for moderate to severe depression along with antidepressants.

Psychotherapy might involve the individual alone or other related individuals for instance the family of the concerned person.

Depending on the severity of depression psychotherapy might take a few weeks or much longer for significant improvement

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy where the therapist actively focuses on problem-solving. This is done by helping individuals replace their negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Electroconvulsive therapy

 

Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment mode that is commonly used for patients with severe and major depression who usually do not respond to other lines of treatment.

It involves brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia.

Patients receive electroconvulsive therapy two or three times a week for a total of 6 to 12 sessions.

Self-help and coping strategies

Apart from therapy and medicine individuals can also carry out some self-help coping strategies such as carrying out regular exercises, getting sufficient sleep, indulging in pleasurable activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol to reduce their symptoms of depression.

 What is Anxiety?

Problems and resulting stress are a part of every individual’s life, which are usually accompanied by some common emotions like confusion, feeling at the edge, a sense of helplessness, and recurrent negative thoughts which can collectively be seen as an individual experiencing what’s commonly called as Anxiety. 

Every human has their unique ways of dealing with these difficult situations and the following emotions, some try to adapt to the circumstances and find the best and most comfortable solution while others try to find an escape route for the same, in both cases the main aim is usually to get over the uncomfortable emotions of anxiety. 

What is the anatomy of anxiety?

Research indicates that the functional anatomy of anxiety involves amygdala-based neuro circuits with reciprocal connections to the medial frontal cortex.

The neurotransmitters involved in the circuits are reviewed for their relevance to the pharmacologic choices in the treatment of anxiety. 

It is believed that traumatic experiences leave emotional marks regarding the amygdala which is responsible for regulating fear and emotion

What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety? 

Anxiety is characterized by a set of signs and symptoms such as:

 

  • Sweating
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sense of choking
  • Complaints of chest pain
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Fear of losing control over oneself and their environment
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Increased heart rate

These symptoms vary in severity from person to person. However, it is noted that many people experience anxiety attacks that are not significantly displayed.

What are some ways to manage anxiety?

Identify and acknowledge the triggers

The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.

Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.

Relaxation techniques

 

Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.

These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.

Socialization

 

A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.

The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.

Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.

Set realistic goals

When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.

Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.

Take up new challenges

Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.

Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.

Lifestyle changes

An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.

A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.

These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.

lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.

Making journal entries

Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.

Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.

In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.

What are the therapy options for anxiety?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.

As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.

Group therapy

 

It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.

Medication

Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.

Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief. 

Online therapy  

In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium. 

In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation. 

Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time

Conclusion

Anxiety and depression are serious mental health concerns that can cause severe impairment in an individual’s life. Some laws and regulations safeguard the rights of the employees against being fired based on their mental health status.

Individuals must be well aware of such rules and regulations to use them effectively when required and discriminated against by the employer based on their mental health illness.

Frequently asked questions

Can people be fired for having anxiety and depression?

Individuals cannot be fired for having anxiety and depression. It is illegal for any company or employer to discriminate against their employees based on their mental health conditions. the employees who were being discriminated against their mental health concerns can take legal actions against the concerned company.

Can you dismiss an employee with mental health issues?

If the mental health issue makes it impossible for the employees to do their job and also causes extra strain on them, employees can be dismissed keeping in mind a fair process.

Is anxiety a protected disability?

Anxiety is a protective diagnosis under the federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects against chronic life-limiting conditions.

Citation

https://screening.mhanational.org/content/can-i-be-fired-my-mental-illness/
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/anxiety-triggers
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10634350/