In our current work culture, it’s difficult, frowned upon, or even not allowed, to call off work for being sick. And, when we think “sick”, we tend to initially think of physical illness such as a cold, flu, or injury. But when it comes to mental health, depending upon your employer and circumstances, taking off work may not even seem like an option. Fortunately, there has been progress in having mental health conversations in the workplace, and policies are adapting to reflect that. Taking time off of work due to depression and anxiety may feel difficult, but is very possible and necessary.
Feeling Too Depressed To Go To Work?
We know that anxiety, stress, and depression can cause just as much distress as physical ailments. And, quite often, our workplace can be a major contributing factor to stress and anxiety. Over the last year, if you transitioned to working from home, survived a global pandemic, and navigated financial crises, you probably experienced stress! Stress usually is most often caused by an external trigger, such as a work deadline, large events, discrimination, ailing health of a loved one, etc. While stress may be alleviated when the stressor is over, it can still bring about mental and physical symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles, and difficulty sleeping. It can also lead to anxiety or other mood problems if persistent.
Anxiety is more often experienced as a persistent and excessive worry, despite relief of the stressor. Anxiety can also manifest in multiple ways, including nervousness, restlessness, tension, having a sense of impending doom, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, trembling, feeling weak or tired, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, and gastrointestinal problems. It’s clear that if we experience even a few of these symptoms, it can absolutely have an impact on our work and wellness as a whole. So, if you’re feeling too depressed to go to work or too anxious to go to work, it is well within reason to take the day off.
Getting Signed Off Work For Depression
In case you’re wondering how to call in sick for depression or anxiety, it may first be helpful to review your employer’s policies around sick leave, and to determine if you are eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA provides some employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, and protects your job status and health benefits, per year. According to the FMLA, employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for the following events: the birth and care of a newborn child of an employee, for placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. This last requirement is where you may be eligible for FMLA and how you can get time off work for stress and anxiety.
Anxiety, stress, or depression leave from work may require multiple days off, which is where FMLA may come in handy. This may be enough time to seek more intensive treatment if needed or time to relax and seek support. However, if you are thinking “can I get a sick note for anxiety”, the answer is yes. First, be familiar with your company or employer’s policy for sick days. Every workplace is different. You may only need to tell your employer that you can’t make it in today, or may be required to provide a letter or note from a medical or mental health professional. It can be difficult to share about anxiety, stress, and depression, but you may or may not need a note in order to take the day off. Ideally, you would be able to go into as much or as little detail as you want about how you are feeling and your reasoning for having the day off. Most likely, you may be asked to name how your mental health concerns are impacting your work.
If you regularly see a therapist or a doctor, you can consult with them regarding taking time off. It is possible your doctor or therapist will give you a sick note for depression, stress, or anxiety. Once again, some employers may require this. However, it is important to note that your doctor cannot discuss your health with your employer without your written and documented consent. Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or better known as HIPAA, your health care providers are not allowed to share information with your employer, or anyone else for that matter, without your consent. If you want your providers to discuss your situation with an employer, you will be asked to sign a release of information (ROI) to have this exchange of information. You may be asked by your employer to voluntarily provide documentation from a therapist or doctor to support a sick day due to anxiety or stress.
Can You Work With Severe Depression
Coping with anxiety, stress, or depression and going to work can feel like an impossible task. While the world is starting to see how our mental health is just as important as our physical health, we still need to be our own biggest advocate. Considering the workplace may be some of the biggest sources of stress and anxiety, it is even more important to consider calling out of work for depression, anxiety, or stress to support our mental health in the long run. While not everyone has the ability to take time off, explore with your employer, therapist, or healthcare provider (if that feels safe to do so) other ways that you can address your mental health in order to feel more present and productive at work.
Treating Depression Related Anxiety With No Side Effects
If you’ve just been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and are concerned about the many side effects of medications, consider treatment via Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). This is an FDA cleared non-invasive treatment that uses targeted magnetic pulses to stimulate areas of the brain that affect mood, which helps you get back to your best life quickly and with no recorded systemic side effects. Among the many treatment options out there, TMS therapy is an excellent solution that is covered by most major insurance companies. The best part is there are no recorded systemic side effects from TMS therapy, making it an excellent solution for those who fear the side effects of medications.
This blog post is meant to be educational in nature and does not replace the advice of a medical professional. See full disclaimer.
American Psychological Association. (2020, September 21). What’s the difference between stress and anxiety? Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/anxiety-difference.
Department of Health and Human Services. (2020, November 2). Employers and Health Information in the Workplace. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/employers-health-information-workplace/index.html.
U.S. Department of Labor. (n.d.). Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) | U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved June 22, 2021, from https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla.