Can you be fired for depression?

This blog answers: Can you be fired for depression? What are the conditions under which an employee can be fired for depression? What is depression? What are the symptoms of depression? What are the treatment options for depression?

Can you be fired for depression?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employees with depression and anxiety cannot legally be fired just because of their mental illness. 

If a person is dismissed because of a psychiatric condition, such as depression they have the right to sue the company that dismissed them.

For the ADA to safeguard an employee, they must have informed their organizations of their mental health issues. While many people are comfortable sharing their psychological disorders with their employers voluntarily, there may be many who’re not because of their employers’ erratic reactions and other individual characteristics.

Instead of approaching the boss directly, most companies have a human resources department where employees can talk about their mental health concerns.

However, apart from ADA, there are numerous different legal safeguards that a worker can use to pursue legal action against business owners who fire them for psychological health issues such as depression.

What are the conditions under which an employee can be fired for depression?

Two reasons for which an employee can be fired for depression are:

  • If an employee missed work due to their mental health condition without informing any of the organization staff such as their managers or seniors.
  • If employee productivity and performance is below the mark regardless of the company’s agreement for leave and accommodation.

What are the steps to take when fired for depression?

Some steps that individuals can take if they have been fired for depression are:

Seek professional help

Individuals who have been fired due to depression and resulting failure in performance and productivity can seek professional help from therapists or psychologists to get a better understanding of what is causing them distress and what are the various treatment options.

During this appointment with the therapist, individuals must be very open about the way the symptoms that they are experiencing have cost them their job.


Another way that individuals can cope with being fired due to depression is to take care of themselves in terms of sleep, diet, exercise, and emotional regulation.

Individuals can also take the help of their close friends or family two cope with the loss that follows after being fired due to their health condition.

Speak to the employer

Individuals who were fired for depression can also attempt to talk to their human resource managers or supervisors about their concerns.

Even though this step would require a lot of courage it provides them a little space to get back their job based on the honesty and legitimacy of their condition.

However, individuals must be well prepared with their answers to the various questions that might be proposed to them in their conversation with the supervisor or the human resource manager.

Consider legal action

In cases where individuals feel that they are fired due to discrimination based on their mental health, they can also approach the legal authorities and file a lawsuit.

This is even more significant if an individual’s termination comes under the policies and laws related to the employment and disability act where individuals can submit a claim under the equal opportunities act that is related to employment.

Before taking the legal step individuals must prepare themselves for the outcome and the results as they might vary depending on the company’s policies and the various documents they require and hold.

 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 people with depression respond well to treatment.

Some possible treatment options for depression are


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 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 model 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


Depression is a significant problem among the working population. Depression may have been stimulated by work stress or other personal problems and crises that a person is dealing with, but it can have a significant impact on a human’s life.

In reality, when it comes to the diagnosis of depression, the DSM-V recognizes dysfunction in occupational obligation as being one of the criteria.

Frequently asked questions: Can you be fired for depression?

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.


Can you be fired for missing work due to depression?

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