Why do I get depressed at work

Depression> work

1. The most important things in a nutshell

A persistent or recurring depressive disorder can lead to impairments that often lead to job loss. Employment should be given high priority not only for financial reasons, but also for many other reasons. Vocational rehabilitation may be necessary, and opportunities for re-entry may be inclusion companies on the second labor market. Daycare centers are not geared towards making money, but rather building up a day-to-day structure. If it is not possible to take up a job on the general labor market, alternative employment opportunities may come into question.

2. Positive aspects of a job


  • creates social contacts and relationships.
  • enables participation in social life.
  • promotes activity.
  • structures the daily routine.
  • gives people a recognized role and social status and thus supports self-confidence and self-assurance.
  • creates financial security that has a relieving effect.

However, it must also be taken into account that the person affected must be able to cope with any type of work, because negative stress and excessive demands can be a cause of depression.

3. Gradual reintegration

The aim of the gradual reintegration (so-called Hamburg model) is to gradually introduce employees who are unable to work after a long and serious illness to the workload and thus facilitate the transition to full employment. The advantage of this measure is that the positive aspects of work can help overcome the depression, but full work is not (yet) necessary. For more information, see Step-by-step reintegration.

4. Help at work for people with disabilities

A whole range of work-related social law benefits can be helpful for working patients with depression. Details under disability> professional life.

5. Professional rehab

A persistent or recurring depressive disorder can lead to impairments that often lead to job loss. Vocational rehabilitation measures, also known as “benefits for participation in working life” (LTA), can make it easier to maintain a job or promote reintegration into working life. More information under Professional Rehabilitation> Services.

When granting benefits for vocational rehabilitation, the most recent occupational activity, the so-called reference occupation, is particularly important. If it is no longer possible to remain in the previous job due to the illness, vocational rehab is an option.

In the case of depression, for example, employment in a social or pedagogical-therapeutic profession can bring about psychosocial stress factors that can have a long-term negative effect on the course of the disease. Here, changing the job profile through services to vocational rehabilitation could come into question, as there is a long-term risk of reduced earning capacity.

5.1. Practical tip

Detailed information on vocational rehabilitation is provided by the "Working Aid for Rehabilitation and Participation of Mentally Ill and Disabled People" from the Federal Rehabilitation Working Group (BAR), which can be downloaded free of charge from www.bar-frankfurt.de> Service> Publications> Rehabilitation Basics.

6. Second labor market and inclusion companies

If the patient no longer has an employment relationship and it is not possible to take up a job on the general labor market, inclusion companies on the so-called second labor market are conceivable fields of work.

6.1. Funding and sponsors

On the second job market there is a great variety of projects that differ greatly from region to region and are usually borne by several cost bearers.

Possible sponsors, partners and / or donors are, for example:

  • Employment Agency
  • Integration office, integration specialist service
  • Social psychiatric service, psychosocial service
  • Municipalities, cities, counties, districts
  • Ministries, here often special funding programs
  • Aktion Mensch, Lebenshilfe
  • Workshops for disabled people (WfbM) and other service providers
  • Charities such as Caritas, Diakonie, Red Cross
  • Churches
  • Foundations
  • Companies

For the employees, it is then partly so-called one-euro jobs (= "work opportunities with additional expense allowances according to SGB II"). They give employees the opportunity to gain a foothold again in professional life through the public and social sector and to test their day-to-day ability to work. For more information see basic income support for job seekers.

6.2. Inclusion companies

Inclusion companies can be operated together with several of the aforementioned partners, but they can also act independently. They work like a normal company and offer their services, but at the same time they are non-profit and are promoted because they have a special effort due to the structure of their employees. These companies are predominantly active in the craft and service sectors. According to the Federal Working Group on Inclusion Firms, there are over 900 inclusion companies in Germany in a wide variety of industries: from industrial production to services, trade, handcraft, hotel and catering, to multimedia and IT companies.

The inclusion goals of the companies are different. They range from training and retraining to help with placement in the primary labor market and permanent employment under sheltered working conditions.

In some cases, regular companies also offer sheltered or integrative jobs for people with mental disorders.

6.2.1. Practical tip

You can find a list of inclusion companies at the Federal Association of Inclusion Companies on the Internet at www.bag-if.de/karte.

6.3. Additional income projects

The problem with many work and integration opportunities, including subsidized ones, is that they assume continuous full-time employment. This is a major hurdle for people with depression. So-called additional income projects for people with mental disorders are helpful here.

They offer work and training opportunities for less than 15 hours of work per week and adapt their requirements to the capabilities of the person concerned with the following measures:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Flexible working speed and productivity, many breaks if necessary
  • Consideration for fluctuations in performance and sick leave
  • No time limitation of the employment (separation of approval periods)
  • No rehab pressure with a target, employees can "just stay like that"
  • No medical prescription or assessment

The sponsorship is just as diverse as mentioned above, some of the projects are affiliated with inclusion companies (see above) or day care centers (see below). Despite the flexible requirements, economically usable products or services must be provided. Costs and salaries have to be earned, the quality of the work has to be right and the remuneration depends on the work performance. The Zuverdienst project offers more information on additional income projects at www.mehrzuverdienst.de.

7. Day centers

Day care centers are facilities in which people with mental illnesses are cared for during the day on weekdays and are instructed in employment. The facilities are as low-threshold as possible; depending on the concept, coming and staying away is voluntary or mandatory. With the organization of the day in the day care center, those affected begin to set up a daily structure and take on simple tasks.

Typical offers and assistance of a day care center are:

  • Daily structuring offers, e.g. lunch together
  • Promotion of social contacts
  • Creative courses or work with colors, wood, sound, music, promotion of personal interests
  • Instructions for things of everyday life
  • Cognitive work (also on the PC)
  • Relaxation and exercise
  • Excursions and holiday camps
  • Support with government and housing matters

Often there are counseling services attached to day care centers that help with social law issues or with the search for rehabilitation, therapy or work opportunities. Sometimes they also make such offers themselves. Some day care centers are organized as associations or clubs. As a rule, they then place higher demands on the social skills of the members and demand a somewhat higher level of commitment, e.g. by taking on duties at certain times.

8. Practical tips

The following tips should be kept in mind for people with depression who have a job:

  • notification of illness
    A depressive episode can occur from one evening to the next morning if the warning signals are not heeded: If a patient is severely restricted in his drive, there is a risk that he will simply stay in bed: without calling the employer, without reporting sick leave to the doctor to get. This can have negative consequences, see incapacity for work.
    The AU certificate must be sent to the employer and the health insurance company. Without an AU certificate, the patient jeopardizes both his job and later sick pay.
    For the financial question, see sick pay and continued payment.
  • termination
    If an employee is dismissed, he should take care of his further livelihood and health insurance protection in good time, e.g. the unemployment benefit from the employment agency.

Relatives can motivate them to perform these tasks or support the person concerned in doing so. If the person concerned is so limited in his ability to act that there is a risk of legal consequences such as debt, it can make sense to set up support. Sociotherapy is intended to motivate and enable those affected to perform treatment or care services independently.

9. Related links

Counselor Depression


Depression> General

Depression> Financial Aid

Depression> Pension

Depression> addresses