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Page last updated: 21/10/2022


In this article, we will answer the question, “Is depression a disability?”

You can also find information about disability benefits for depression, and depression as a disability in employment.

A mental health condition is considered a disability if it has an unfavourable, substantial, and long-term effect on your regular daily activity. 

Disability Benefits for Depression

To get benefits from their disability, people with depression must meet specific disability criteria or receive medical and vocational allowance based on their depression severity and other factors’ combination.

People can qualify for disability for depression basing on disability listing for depression or qualifying outside of the depression listing. 

Disability Listing for Depression

Depression is included in Social Security’s impairment list.

To pretend to Social Security disability or SSI disability benefits basing on your depression, you must show that the depression you struggle with is severe. 

You can know you suffer from severe depression if you have at least five of these symptoms:

  • Feeling guilty and worthless,
  • Depressed mood,
  • Decreased interest or loss of interest in activities,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • Suicidal thoughts,
  • Eating disorder,
  • Difficulties in thinking and concentration.

Besides having at least five of the mentioned symptoms, you must also meet functional criteria to show your loss of abilities, which are results of depression.

You must have an extreme limitation in at least one of the following areas, or a “marked” limitation in at least two of the following areas:

  1. Understanding, remembering and using information,
  2. Interacting with people (the ability to use socially appropriate behaviors),
  3. Managing or adapting yourself (the ability to cook, dress, pay bills, take care about personal hygiene, and other things),
  4. The ability to complete tasks.

If you cannot show that you have functional limitations because you have been receiving an intense therapy, you can show that you have been living in a highly structured setting or receiving psychological support, medical treatment, or mental health therapy, which reduce the depression symptoms.

You must also show that you have a minimum capacity of adaptation so that you can adapt to changes in your life.

All of this is under the second set of functional criteria. The condition of people who comply with these criteria is called “marginal.” 

Qualifying outside of the depression listing

If Social Security does not consider a person’s depression severe enough to qualify to base on disability listing for depression, it will consider how depression symptoms influence on your ability to do some unskilled work, based on your ability to:

  • Make simple decisions connected to work,
  • Follow simple instructions,
  • Handle changes in everyday life,
  • Appropriately respond to supervision and coworkers.

If, besides depression, you have another physical or mental disorder, you will have more chances to get the disability benefits.


Depression as a Disability in Employment

As we know, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is replaced by The Equality Act 2010.

According to it, employees with disabilities are protected by law.

The law claims that employers cannot treat their employees with disabilities less positively than other employees who do not have disabilities.

Moreover, employers must adapt the workplace to the employees, in case he has got difficulties at work because of their disabilities.

According to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, an employee is considered disabled depending on the impairments’ effect on his/her ability to carry out daily activities.

An impairment is considered to affect the ability to carry out daily activities if it affects one of the following:

  • Mobility,
  • Manual dexterity,
  • Continence,
  • Ability to move, or carry everyday objects,
  • Vision, speech, or hearing,
  • Perception of the risk of physical danger,
  • Ability to concentrate, understand or learn,
  • Physical coordination.

However, this is not replicated in the Equality Act 2010. According to the Equality Act, an impairment must be long-lasting, so that it can be qualified as a disability.

Therefore, it is supposed that the impairment lasts for twelve months or more.

In the case of depression, its symptoms can reduce after some months under the effects of medications; then, they can increase again.

The EqA claims that if an impairment has had an essential effect on a person’s ability to carry out daily activities, but the effect reduces, then that essential effect is considered as continuing if the effect may occur beyond a period of twelve months.

Thus, it is difficult to establish if an employee struggling with depression is qualified as disabled or not.

People about the topic “Is Depression a Disability?”


Temporary: Can be a mental, an emotional, and a physical disability.

It depends on how you “get through” (process) the depression.

Do you have a habit of emotional decision making?

Do you have a mental habit of creating sick thoughts? Do you have a habit of destructive physical action?

Do you have a habit that does not serve you well? Do you have a habit of creating low energy, low mood, depressive attitude?

Essentially, depression is a collection of depressed habits. Habits can be mental, emotional, and physical.

You can accept the depression as a temporary situation AND THEN immediately do something about it where you discover awareness through the process of acceptance, forgiveness, and contribution.

You generate energetic habits to replace depressive habits.

Alternatively, you can accept the depression as the end situation and do nothing about it, which increases depressive habits.

In reality:

  • “a bigger man/woman” will encounter problems and obstacles in life to appear smaller
  • “a smaller man/woman (depressed)” will encounter problems and obstacles in life to appear more prominent.

At the start of each day, one knows they have found the path towards greater awareness by having stronger habits replace depressive habits.

This process tends to make the day feel fresh, renew, and a sense of mystery.

Bless days are a “normal” condition. Miracles happen every single moment, and to capture one is a pleasant surprise.


It can be, though, it is not always.

I suspect that I had minor depression before 2010, but in that year, it reached a disabling point.

I lost over a year after my divorce, unable to function, barely with enough energy to eat, and take care of myself.

If I had not the resources I had and people that cared for me, I would have become homeless, and likely died considering I was sleeping 18–20 hours a day. It was a sort of suicide/death-wish fulfillment.

When I slept, I did not dream; I was not aware of or in pain.

I would wake up, eat, use the restroom, and watch television for a few hours before returning to sleep.

During this time, the only work I would have been capable of was writing.

I hit another time like this in 2016 after my depression put me in the hospital; this time, it lasted six months because I knew what the path out was.

If it happens again, my only hope is that I am currently building skills that I can do from a bed.

I will not lose my ability to work even if my brain and body fail me, and that took some doing.

For most people being in the state, I was in would stop all work, and if they did not have good self-care habits, they would get worse.

That is pretty much the definition of disability.

My fiance and I have planned our future with two paths, one for me continuing to function and grow inability, and another for the potential for total disability.

I do not know any other 31-year-old people that have had to do that.

Right now, the depression is not at the point of disability. It is a few bad days a month, which I can work through.

I still sleep a little more than average, but I live with that.

I got here by taking medication and seeking out treatment for depressive thoughts.

There is treatment-resistant depression, however.

Some depression does not react to any antidepressant, and even more severe steps like lithium or electro-convulsive therapy do not help.

Those people with that kind of depression are more prone to be disabled.

Sadly our system for helping those people is severely lacking; a diagnosis of depression for these people means a life of poverty and struggling.

  1. Anxiety and Depression in People with Intellectual Disabilities: Advances in Interventions
  2. Depression and disability: A practical guide 
  3. Freedom From Depression: No Matter What Your Disability May Be
  4. HFNE “Clinical Depression”
  5. HFNE “Types of Depression”

FAQs about the topic “Is depression a disability?”

Is depression a legal disability?

Depression is a legal disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

However, not every person who struggles with depression is protected.

Is mental health disability? 

Mental health condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect (when it lasts or can last for twelve months) on your daily activity, according to the Equality Act 2010.

Is stress a disability?

Stress is not a disability.

However, chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression, heart disease, eating disorders, skin and hair problems, sexual dysfunction, and other health problems.

Do I have to tell the employer about mental illness?

You do not have to tell your employer about mental illness if it is not dangerous for yourself or your coworkers.

However, it is recommended to inform him about your mental health problems so that you do not have difficulties in making a formal disability claim in the future.

Is anxiety a mental illness?

Anxiety is not a mental illness; it is a feeling of unease like fear or worry, that can be severe or mild.

What about anxiety disorders, they are considered mental illnesses.

Can you be denied a job because of mental illness?

You cannot be denied a job because of mental illness, as it is illegal for employers to fire you or refuse to give you a job only because of your mental health problems.


Discussing the topic, you could say that depression can be qualified as a disability because it can last for months.

You can qualify for disability for depression basing on disability listing for depression or qualifying outside of the depression listing.

If you have got mental health problems while having a job, or if you already had some disabilities and you want to apply for a job, you have got some necessary information about qualifying for disabilities, which can be useful in your career, or for current job.

To get detailed information about it, you should go or call to relevant figures.

This article is for information and should not be perceived as an advice.


  1. Social Security Disability and SSI for Depression
  2. When is depression a disability?