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There is an existing question about depression in a different situation (job seeking), and the answers are mostly about the obligation to disclose it and clearance issues, which is not really what I'm asking.

I've been a very productive employee for years, but lately made a huge deal out of minor issues, clashed with a few coworkers then with my manager, and became less reliable (kept doing my job well but missed meetings and took time off unpredictably).

I assumed this was burnout, told my manager and HR, and had a meeting with them to address their complaints and my request to reduce my responsibilities and work hours. At least on paper, there's no permanent harm done, I'm still working there, but I've been pretty aggressive with a few people and the higher-ups have probably heard of it.

The issue got worse and worse despite a lower workload and I now recognize that this is a mood disorder that runs in my family, whose treatments are hit-and-miss and can take a lot of experimentation to get right. I will probably keep struggling for a while until I find the right routine.

Should I tell HR/my boss about this, so they understand why I've been acting this way, or should I let them think it was just burnout and work stress and try to deal with it silently?

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    Have you seen a medical doctor or psychiatrist to get help about this ? Do you have an official diagnosis from the doctor about your medical condition ? Commented Apr 15 at 20:30
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    @Job_September_2020 Yes, a psychiatrist confirmed it years ago when my symptoms were milder. The treatment we tried didn't work well and it was manageable, so I stopped treatment then and wasn't completely sure about the diagnosis until now.
    – MattRix
    Commented Apr 15 at 21:14
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    Please add a jurisdiction. If you are in continental Europe disclosing that you are under treatment makes you essentially unfireable because of the issues associated to it. If you are in the US, they may fire you because they don't want to deal with the issues.
    – quarague
    Commented Apr 16 at 7:19
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    The honesty with them will hopefully make it less stressful for them to give you the space you need while you begin treatment. I am not suggesting that the more than a manager and HR be aware. The company's long term goal does align with yours. If they are a decent company, they should support you getting better.
    – DogBoy37
    Commented Apr 16 at 12:26
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    @MattRix Please add a tag with the country. In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 means it can be advantageous to disclose a disability. Perhaps your country has something similar. Commented Apr 16 at 13:12

4 Answers 4

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Instead of saying nothing or disclosing the mood disorder, I suggest a third option: Let them know that you have a health condition that you are working with your healthcare team to resolve, but it may take a while. Your employer doesn't need to know the nature of the condition, but let them know if there are any accommodations you need in the meantime (e.g. medical leave, time off to attend medical appointments, reduced hours).

I suggest you ask your doctor for a letter outlining the accommodations you need, and provide that to your employer. That will help show your boss that you have a plan to address the issue. Also, it might provide some legal protection in case you're concerned they might terminate you.

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It is fruitful telling your boss/HR if you actually have a plan to combat your situation either by taking personal non FMLA leaves for therapy or those hit-miss treatments. You can tell them about what you're going through and how you're planning to handle it. I am confident once they hear the details they would be willing to go along.

However, if you don't mention about your plans on how you will handle it and if you're only willing to wait this phase out and not putting up any sort of immediate counter measure, then it may sound to them that you're making up an excuse to be rude/aggressive towards them, specially if you can't back it up by any sort of official medical diagnosis.

Don't get me wrong, I completely sympathize with your situation and I hope you can figure this out and you will.

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I have an unfortunate (but ultimately fantastic) abundance of experience on this topic.

I'll cut to the chase: please consider a psychologist first. You may have to search to find the 'right fit'. Do not allow anyone to prescribe psychiatric drugs right away...if ever.

Do not share with your employer other than the 'medical issue' route if your doctor will be discrete in their/any written validation.

Understand that while the psychiatric industry gives lip service to abhorrent stigma & bringing positive awareness of mental health challenges, the real world is entrenched in pejorative judgement & amateur 'experts' who claim authority on the topic...while publicly expressing modern enlightenment. Their legal departments are addressing possible, future liability concerns. BTW, the psychiatric industry does not 'walk the walk' either! Yikes.

For example...medical professionals (!) try to hide therapy and psychotropic treatment ('covered' by insurance)—it leaves a record. They pay cash for help, not an option for most....because it's a career-killer...still, in 2024 and the foreseeable future. This is among the 'informed & enlightened' medical profession. It should tell you a lot.

If you think 'fighting that in court' and winning because it's righteous...I'll guess you've never 'been there, done that'. I have...I won a very dangerous situation in a very unconventional, rare way. But the personal toll was profound.

I learned a lot. I'm fine now. My eyes are wide open regarding who to trust—and how to still get safe medical help.

Be careful with this. And make your well-being a priority...even if it means changing career directions.

You're insight is terrific. Get informed, ensure you have smart, safe options in an industry is infamous for financial-conflict-of-interest. Use OpenData.gov to see if your doctor is taking $ from Pharma or ?, for what, and how much. Do what 'feels' right and be very gentle with yourself...just as you would for any loved one.

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  • I'm sorry you had to go through this. I'm wondering about "it leaves a record [...] it's a career-killer". Do you mean that this record can come back to hurt someone, even if they keep it to themselves? I had the impression that someone's medical record was always private by default.
    – MattRix
    Commented Apr 17 at 10:37
  • Please double-check: OpenData.gov does not seem to be a valid domain name.
    – spuck
    Commented Apr 17 at 17:58
  • My apologies & thx....It's OpenPaymentsData.cms.gov. I short-circuited. Was used to using Dollars for Docs @ Propublica that has been retired, I believe. K
    – K Hart
    Commented Apr 17 at 23:52
  • Mattrix-I was referencing medical professionals (also the military). MedPage reported a top doctor/surgeon being passed over for promotion,but also 'eased out' when his therapy was disclosed during the vetting process. He was also taking 'maintenance' psychotropics. Also my dentist wanted my psychs contact 'for a friend's. I was the liason. My psych (CMO of large BH contractor) extended an 'off-the-record professional courtesy'. He told me his associates would 'drop-in' constantly (late working hours) for 'unofficial' consults.
    – K Hart
    Commented Apr 18 at 0:02
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Should I tell HR/my boss about this, so they understand why I've been acting this way

No. Right now it is your analysis that this a genetic medical condition which may or may not be right. However, once you tell your employer, it is permanently associated with you and can fire back on you.

or should I let them think it was just burnout and work stress and try to deal with it silently?

More than "letting them think", important part is to deal with it; silently or not is your choice. Everyone goes through a low phase and this could be yours. You do not have to associate with any "condition". Just work on it through the routines you mentioned or any other methods.

Wishing you the best.

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    I already saw a psychiatrist who confirmed the diagnosis years ago, when symptoms were milder. I'd like the answers not to question the diagnosis, a psych visit planned soon will take care of that.
    – MattRix
    Commented Apr 16 at 15:22
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    Appreciate your advice though. I will make sure that I'm not mistaken before taking action.
    – MattRix
    Commented Apr 16 at 19:53

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