Heather Mac Donald

Heather Mac Donald

University of New Brunswick, Canada

Title: Battling adversity: Women’s journey back to work after a lapse due to depression



Depression is both an urgent and complex occupational health issue. Many individuals are employed at the same time as they are experiencing a major depressive episode. A large proportion of workers who experience a depression-related absence from work are women. However, little is known about the experiences of returning to work for women with depression. The goal of this study is to identify women’s experiences of returning to work after a lapse due to a depression. Grounded Theory is the method being used. At this time 31 women of the projected 40 have participated in in-depth interviews. Analysis is currently being conducted and reoccurring themes are emerging. In this presentation the focus will be on two themes. The first theme is "Battling Adversity" which includes battling depression, battling the workplace and battling the institution, all of which describe the struggle many women have experienced in returning to work. The second theme “Upholding Silence” includes concealing their depression and selective disclosure. Women speak about wearing a mask when they are in the workplace in order to conceal their depression. Many women mention triggers and use particular language while explaining their absence from work, such as burnout, stress, and fatigue. These words are thought to be helpful in concealing the depression. Women described their journey back to work and back to wellness.

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