Is it better for your coworkers to think you are depressed or just stupid?

Is it better for your coworkers to think you are depressed or just stupid?


When I first read this question, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake to answer, but when I sat down to write, I really had to think a long time.  I don’t think coworkers necessarily need to think you are either depressed or stupid, especially that you are stupid.  But if that is the case, then that brings up the question “Well then how do I explain my behavior?”  So, I thought about it for awhile longer, and the whole time, I kept imagining my own workplace (an office setting) and what I have done with respect to my own behaviors in my own office.  The answer to that was just a plain and simple, “Nothing,” so I figured there had to be more to this issue.

I began to think about different work settings: retail, salesmen/women, customer service, etc. and how depression could affect the job to the extent that coworkers would notice and draw conclusions about the behaviors.  I mean, working in an office setting, when I am feeling more depressed, I am able to close the door to my office, chalk it up to a bad day (if anyone asks), and no one knows what I was like behind that closed door.  However, if you are a retail clerk, you are out in front of customers all day long, are quite interactive with your coworkers, and the symptoms of depression may be visible to them.  It is also usually expected for you to be smiling and cheerful with customers, and I can absolutely see how being depressed could impact that.  However, depression is not permanent.  Depression comes and goes.  Everyone experiences some form of depression at one point in their life or another.  If someone thinks you’re depressed, that does not automatically lead someone to believe that you may not be able to perform the functions of the job.  If they believe you are stupid, on the other hand, that could lead coworkers to believe you can’t perform the job and could jeopardize your job.  The presumption of stupidity sells yourself short immensely!!!!  It could prevent you from possible raises and job promotions, and really places a label on you that is completely untrue and could hinder your ability to achieve your full potential.

If the depression is becoming so severe that it is getting in the way of functions of your job, then it may be time to see out some professional help.  If you think that being depressed is frowned upon by your coworkers, or may make them treat you differently, I don’t see why you would even have to disclose any information to them or allude to anything at all.  In my workplace, no one has ever asked me if I was depressed, nor have I heard any gossip regarding it.  I also am not delving that deep into my coworkers lives that I would even be looking for signs that would signal depression in any of them.  Many people are very good at slapping a smile on their face and going through the motions, while deep down struggling with depression or other mental illnesses.  You may not even be displaying any signs of depression.  However, as I suggested earlier, if the depression is to the point of impacting your work duties, then you may want to consider professional help.  In the meantime, don’t sell yourself short and let anyone think you are stupid.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave your feedback here!