Everyone experiences off moods at one point or another. We can usually attribute it to a specific situation that comes and goes, and then we pull ourselves together and move on to what we need to do. It is when we find ourselves in bleak moods on a regular basis that we have to wonder if something is wrong with us. It is important to remember that before we associate the blame with ourselves, we need to assess our circumstances first.
The biggest contributing factor to mood problems is a toxic environment. A primary example is a hostile work environment. While it is true that jobs are harder to come by in our current economy, it is important to know when you might be better off finding somewhere else to go. The EEOC defines a hostile work environment as “a situation in which unlawful discrimination has become so frequent or severe that the environment of the workplace can be considered hostile to employees”. Unfortunately, hostile work environments are not always so easily defined, as one can feel like they are being singled out and mistreated in a number of ways.
Hostile work environments can fall under a classification of legal and illegal. Aegal hostile work environment can mean you have a boss with a horrible communication style or managers and co-workers who make impossible demands in terms of work production and deadlines, but do not display discriminatory behaviors. In this case, there is no legal recourse, so it is up to the employee to get out while they can. An illegal hostile work environment is one where a clear case of bigotry or sexism is demonstrated. In such cases, you may contact an attorney or the EEOC to file a complaint.
Studies have shown a correlation between overtime and clinical depression. The more overtime an employee works a week on a consistent basis, the more likely they are to become depressed. Even if you like your job, quality of life is diminished when a person spends more time in the office. Relationships often deteriorate and the individual finds they have less and less to look forward to since they know they will have to report to the office the next day. Combine that with a hostile work environment, the chances for mood disorders increases exponentially.
Another area of our life that can be toxic is our relationships. This applies to friends, family and romantic partners. Toxic relationships not only result in depression and anxiety, but it can also increase the chances of heart problems since prolonged stress taxes the entire system. Researchers found in a long-term study that cardiac issues increased in subjects with negative relationships. A simple way to assess whether or not a relationship is negatively impacting your life is how your energy levels are after you have spent time with the person. If you feel drained, irritable or feel bad about yourself after interacting with an individual, it is a stronger indicator that you should limit, if not terminate, contact with that person.
In some cases, we cannot always separate ourselves completely from negative interactions. That does not mean there is nothing you can do about it. Finding support groups of people with similar experiences will give you different perspectives and possible solutions for managing a troubling situation. There are a number of support groups in the Burbank area run by professionals, including groups for women, couples and individuals who act as a caregiver to another.