Life is full of obstacles. Some of these obstacles cause emotional adversities. It is necessary to be aware of these emotions, to deal with them, and seek treatment if they have the dimensions of an illness. When the symptoms are severe, seeking an expert is generally not difficult. However, sometimes symptoms that are not severe stealthily spread over time and adversely affect the value and efficiency of life.
Community life has brought new burdens to bear on working people. New responsibilities, new burdens force people not to show worries and anxieties to others, to hide them. Competitive working conditions, prejudices, the fear of being branded, all cause a denial of the situation and prevent seeking expert help.
Efficiency and performance at the work place are dependent on many things. Usually, just carrying out the work that has been given is not enough for a person. The feeling of not being able to use one’s abilities to the full creates sadness. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of requirements, the first level consists of physiological needs – breathing, eating, drinking and reproducing. The second level of the pyramid is taken up by “security and protection”. The next level for the person who has achieved these includes love and the need to belong, which are connected to the feeling of security. The next priority is the respect of others, and our self respect. If these four conditions are not met, problems arise. The reason for the problem is the feeling of need. Maslow calls this the need to survive. The apex of the pyramid is the section on self-realization. The others are comparatively easy, but this one is difficult. People keep wanting more, but the moment their needs are met, their attention immediately turns to self-realization. This concept includes being happy, being able to enjoy one’s self, being successful and brilliant, having satisfying relationships, and in short, “feeling good about one’s self.” Naturally, this is an extremely relative concept.
Being able to do the job enough to get by, or to play the role expected of us may be enough to save the day, it will not be enough to save us from the suffocating effect of meaninglessness and absurdity that repeating the same things will bring in the long run. Therefore, ascending the steps of that pyramid is a natural human expectation. However, some personality issues obstruct the individual. The fear of being unsuccessful, of being humiliated, may stop a person from taking the initiative in some instances.
If psychiatric disorders spread over a long time and develop furtively, they may be perceived by the person as habits that prevent one from developing. When the fear of being branded is added to being unaware, working life, performance will suffer, the feeling of not being able to give life its worth, of being a failure will prevail. This situation is the problem of the establishment as much as the person him/herself. The measurement of job performance must not be only the measurement of knowledge and results.
There are insidious problems that do not display obvious symptoms, and are usually classed as personality traits. Most common among those are Dysthymia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Phobia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Recognizing them is the first step in preventing losses in the work place, and ensuring the treatment is winning. As these problems are usually classed as “disposition, personality trait,” it is difficult to reach a solution.
Dysthymia: Dysthymia is the spread over at least two years of depression symptoms such as changes in sleeping and eating habits, no enjoyment of life, apathy, a feeling of suffocation. As it does not start distinctly, like depression, and as it does not impair basic functions, it may not be diagnosed. But the apathy and feeling too fatigued to work are always there. Therefore others may interpret this not as someone who is ill, but as someone who is moody, troubled and unhappy. However, this person may try to seem happy and fit in the establishment, depending on his/her place of work and his/her position. This will hasten the downfall. Dysthymia causes serious social and economic losses in business life. It reduces performance and seriously damages interpersonal relationships. It is an insidious, little known disorder that prevents reaching the deserved economic and career levels, and hinders achieving satisfaction in life. Actually, dysthymia can be cured with medications and with cognitive behavioral and interpersonal psychotherapy methods.
Social Phobia: Social phobia is feeling anxiety in the presence of others, or authority such as the manager or supervisor, not being able to talk, to express one’s self, feeling embarrassed, not being able to show one’s abilities. The person has a low opinion of self, hides talent and abilities, therefore does not attain the deserved position. As this phobia starts in adolescence, it is evaluated as being shy. They try to be more extroverted. It is one of the most insidious, overlooked conditions. As the person can never display or explain his/her real talents and abilities, that person can never attain the success he/she deserves. This is a loss for the business as well. In fact, it can be treated.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Troublesome thoughts that cannot be pushed out of one’s mind, and the efforts to get rid of them are called obsessive compulsive disorder. As the symptoms seem like a desire for accuracy, cleanliness and order, it may seem like a positive trait at the work place. However, it causes losses in the working life through a waste of time. When the person starts a job, it does not get finished or finished in time, because he/she spends too much time in details, or wastes time with some personal rituals. It can manifest itself as washing the hands countless times, avoiding handshakes, or trying to bring symmetry and order to office furniture. As he/she can never be sure of what he/she has done, he/she may try to check and redo everything. Being too cautious may cause problems. The fear of doing wrong and the endeavor to be perfect may cause losses. This condition may persist for years without being diagnosed, or the person may describe himself/herself as being cleaner, more orderly and accurate than others, and refuse treatment until the condition becomes very serious.
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder: Do you know anyone who is always cheerful, loved by everyone, but forgets the place of documents, gets things done in the last minute, is late for meetings, then gets bored and fidgets throughout the meeting, says everything that comes to mind, makes jokes, produces projects but never completes them, because there are other brilliant ideas to pursue, and changes jobs quite often? All these symptoms are thought to be personality traits that will not change, so they are sometimes tolerated, sometimes pushed away, but in the end, they cause serious losses for the individual and for the business. In fact, they may be the symptoms of an easily diagnosed and treated problem, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In spite of lasting life long, and causing work loss in adulthood through difficulties in concentration and getting easily bored, treatment is not sought because it is believed to be a childhood disorder. If it is considered that this is not a personality trait, and that it could extend into adulthood, and help is sought, it can be easily treated. And a situation that prevents a person from attaining deserved success and an establishment from benefiting, can be brought under control.
WHICH OCCUPATIONS are MORE PRONE to DEPRESSION?
Depression is accepted as being the illness that causes the greatest losses in work and labor. The loss increases because, in contrast to physical illnesses, unless it reaches very serious levels, people do not apply for treatment for fear of being branded. Women talk about their symptoms more than men. Research that has been carried out shows that some sectors are more prone to depression. According to the 2006 listing, people in the personal care services are the most susceptible to depression.
1- Personal care services (%10,8)
2- Food preparation and serving ( %10,3)
3- Public/social services and health services ( %9,6 )
4- Art, design, entertainment, sports and media ( %9,1)
5- Education and library services ( %8,7)
6- Office workers (%8,1 )
7- Construction and landscaping ( %7,3)
8- Finance and sales ( %6,7 )
9- Law and transportation ( %6,4)
10- Mathematics and computer sciences ( %6,2)
11- Production, manufacturing (%5,9 )
12- Administration ( %5,8)
Professor Bengi Semeci, M.D.