Starting a new job can be a stressful experience that may worsen your depression. But you can take steps to cope with depression as you adjust to a fresh role.

If you experience depression, you may worry about switching jobs. A new job can be exciting, but with that excitement comes uncertainty, new situations and people, and general anxiety about what will happen.

This can be particularly daunting if you know that stress is a trigger for you.

There are steps you can take to help cope with your depression despite the new layer of stress associated with the career change.

Starting a new job can be a stressful time. After all, everything is new, from your coworkers to your responsibilities. While it can be exciting, it can also contribute to your depression or other mental health conditions, like anxiety.

Researchers have known about the effects of stress on depression for some time, though they aren’t completely certain how stress contributes to depression.

In a 2016 study, researchers speculated that stress might contribute to the development of depression, but it’s not as simple as stress-causing depression.

Instead, they noted that several potential factors might contribute to the development of depression, such as:

  • stressors from the environment
  • stressful experiences during childhood

More recently, in 2021, scientists studied how stress works in mice’s brains. They found that deficiencies in the protein P11 can contribute to a heightened sense of stress in the mice.

Studies indicate that the mice with a P11 deficiency showed higher signs of anxiety and an increased heart rate. They hope future studies show that developing medication that affects P11 may help better treat people with depression.

Though more research is needed, it may be possible that the stress associated with a new job could trigger or worsen depression if you’re already living with it.

Adjusting to a new job can take time. How long can depend on many factors, such as how well you:

  • feel you fit in with the company culture
  • learn new routines
  • understand customers needs
  • adjust to new job responsibilities

Many estimate that fully adjusting can take several months to a year. You’re not alone if you’re having trouble adjusting to your new workplace after a few weeks or months.

When you start a new job and things don’t go right, you may be tempted to call it quits. While this may be your best move, most employment agencies encourage a person to stick it out and find ways to cope with their situation.

Of course, living with depression can complicate the adjustment period. Your stress may contribute to your depression, or you may find it difficult to reach out to others.

While it can feel overwhelming, here are a few tips to help you cope with your depression as you start a new job.

Talk with your doctor

One of the first things you may want to consider is talking with your doctor or mental health professional about your symptoms. They may recommend additional therapies or suggest changes to any medications you may be taking.

A study from 2020 indicates that medications for depression need to be personalized since they do not work the same for everyone. If you feel your antidepressants aren’t working, they may work with you to find a medication or dose that does.

Ask for help

Asking for help might be a great coping strategy for you. If you have difficulty with some of your work or have questions about it, you may find asking your coworkers may help.

If you have concerns about the company culture, talking with human resources (HR) may help you figure out where you fit in.

Asking for help doesn’t necessarily have to be work-related, either. You may find you need additional support at home or from friends. Maybe there is something they can do to help you lower your stress levels or better cope with depression or the stress associated with starting a new job.

Get out and exercise

Exercise can be an excellent way to both improve your overall health and decrease stress. If you find your depression worsening when starting a new job, you may find that walking during lunch or setting aside time to exercise may help you feel better.

Try to get to know your coworkers

When you start a new job, most or all of your coworkers will likely be new to you. You may find that inviting them to lunch or talking with them on your breaks may help you feel more comfortable at work. It can also give you additional people you can ask for help if needed.

Get a good night’s sleep

Whenever possible, try to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep is good for your overall health and may help you feel better during the day.

If you have trouble sleeping due to depression, you may want to talk with your doctor about what you can do to improve your sleep. Some general suggestions include:

  • going to bed at a consistent time each night
  • making the room dark
  • avoiding electronics and screens for a few hours before bed
  • avoiding caffeinated drinks before bed

Listen to music while you work

If you can, try listening to music as you work. Of course, you should check with your HR department beforehand, but research from 2017 suggests that listening to music can help boost your mood.

If you can’t listen at work, you may find that listening to it on the way to and from work or during breaks may also help.

Try to develop a routine

A routine can help keep you on track during the day and may help you set and keep goals.

This only works if your job is flexible and allows you to set your own schedule. If your job has a set structure, you may find that learning the routine and embracing it as best you can help.

Starting a new job can lead to stress, which may trigger or worsen your depression. When you start a new job, everything is new, which can be both exciting and daunting.

If you’re having trouble adjusting to your new role or dealing with your depression, you can try several different approaches to help you cope. They can include adjustments to your current therapies, listening to music, exercise, and others.

If you need help finding treatment centers for depression, you can try contacting SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The service helps connect you to mental health professionals in your area that may be able to provide services to fit your needs.