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Depression and Executive Mental Health

Mar 15, 2022

As the highest-ranking person in your company, you may be seen by others as invincible. The truth is, your responsibility for producing growth and profitability may face a hidden threat in the office every day. It can come from undiagnosed or untreated depression. Let’s look at how neglecting executive mental health needs can lead to disastrous professional and personal consequences.

Untreated depression can become a liability for an executive who turns to drugs or alcohol as a way to manage their mental health needs. Responding to a demanding job with routine substance use can lead to addiction. A CEO may begin to see signs of depression during their workday, including trouble concentrating, low energy, and loss of interest in preferred activities. Untreated depression accompanied by a substance use disorder can negatively affect an executive’s health, well-being, and career. Dual diagnosis treatment is recommended and available in a confidential setting for the CEO with depression and substance use issues.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-270-1753.

CEO Depression

A Chief Executive Officer’s demands seem endless. The job doesn’t end when business hours come to a close. You may be taking your work home with you every night and spending weekends thinking about important decisions to make next.

The endless focus to remain successful is what puts you in the position you’re in right now. It’s what you believe will lead you to continue to earn accolades for staying ahead of your company’s competition. At the same time, this drive and ambition (and other positive qualities) may be masking underlying depression.

If you have already been diagnosed with depression, taking time to manage it in healthy ways may seem like a needless distraction. You may feel like the discovery of your depression will weaken your value as CEO or cause harm to your reputation. These thoughts may have kept you from starting or continuing with treatments for depression.

Some of the most successful people live with depression. They are innovators, entrepreneurs, and award winners. As more of them share their stories, they empower others to handle executive mental health without feeling shame.

Signs of Depression in Executives

For someone who prioritizes career over self, it can be easy to miss seeing clues that you’ve been dealing with common executive mental health issues, like depression. Different signs of depression in executives can appear in response to changing circumstances. Some of these signs may have been apparent to you for years.

You may have seen changes in how you sleep or how much you eat. You may be struggling to concentrate, even when communicating a new strategy to employees, partners, or customers. Long days at the office may feel more demanding as you can’t sustain enough energy for hours at a time.

When you do attempt to inject some work-life balance, you may find you lack the interest to participate in your favorite activities. This might mean no longer golfing, jogging, cycling, or other recreational activities. Social activities may start to get skipped in favor of either working more or spending time alone.

As suggested above, success and depression aren’t mutually exclusive. Even on the verge of a successful deal, a CEO with depression can feel a sense of hopelessness. A public announcement of an acquisition can coincide with guilty thoughts.

The highest levels of success don’t insulate a CEO with depression from having unsettling thoughts as well. These may be thoughts about self-harm or planning to hurt yourself. You may become preoccupied with this type of thinking and look for representations of it in life around you.

Your body can provide clues about a problem with depression. You may feel agitated more frequently and move around the office less often. Physical aches and pains may appear more regularly.

Depression Treatment

Treatment for depression can involve multiple types of intervention. Talk therapy is one common form. In these sessions, a therapist can help you learn how to respond to depression symptoms in healthy ways. Using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), you can discover the patterns in your depression-related thinking and behaviors that have been self-destructive.

Behavioral therapy can help a CEO learn to cope with the negativity related to their depression symptoms. This form of treatment also encourages a person to create personal goals outside of their career. Setting up both short-term and long-term goals gives the CEO a chance to create a positive cycle of activity and learn how to sustain it.

Medication is another form of treating depression. Medication alone may not be the most effective solution for executives with a mental health disorder. In conjunction with ongoing therapy, antidepressants can help normalize the brain changes caused by depression.

Executive Depression and Alcohol Use

An executive’s depression may compel them to find short-term solutions to manage the symptoms. Excessive alcohol is one common result. It’s widely available and typically associated with unwinding from a long day, meeting with clients, or celebrating a company success.

Beyond an occasional drink, steady alcohol use can look like daily drinking after work, drinking during lunch, and binge drinking at home. The frequency and regular amounts of drinking can contribute to the development of an alcohol use disorder.

A CEO may begin to feel like alcohol has become a mandatory part of their day. Keeping alcohol in the office may begin to be a routine practice. Offering alcohol to others as a reason to drink could emerge as a common scenario.

Take a moment to assess what role alcohol plays in your workplace environment and in your overall lifestyle. By looking at when you drink and how much, you will begin to become aware of alcohol as a factor in your health, well-being, and ability to handle your role as CEO responsibly.

Executive Depression and Substance Use

For some people, attempting to excel as CEO while living with depression symptoms can mean turning to legal or illegal substances on a regular basis. It can also mean moving from alcohol to a drug with a stronger and more immediate impact. These types of substances can range from prescription opioids to cocaine.

Like alcohol use, the executive with untreated depression may begin to see drug use as a necessary part of functioning in their role. They may spend more time behind a closed door or step out of the office to take a drug. If using prescription medication, they may make their drug use seem acceptable by mentioning real or imagined aches and pains.

Judgment may become affected when a CEO is routinely getting high while at work. The CEO may make riskier decisions or more impulsive ones. They may respond harshly when challenged by employees.

If drug use has become a routine part of your workweek, your leadership role and career could be compromised. Consider what consequences you might be facing if you don’t seek treatment for both your executive mental health disorder and your developing substance use disorder.

Co-Occurring Treatment for Depression and Addiction

Confidential treatment for depression and addiction is available for the CEO who needs it. In a private, luxury setting, an executive can begin the recovery work needed to protect their health, career, and reputation. The residential setting allows them to solely focus on acquiring the skills needed to restore good physical, emotional, and psychological help without the distractions of endless executive decision-making.

Individual therapy is a fundamental part of dual diagnosis treatment for depression and addiction. An integrated approach allows a CEO to benefit from working with a unified team across several disciplines: therapists, doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. The rest of the personalized care is designed with attention to high amenities so the executive can rest, reflect, and focus on their recovery.

For executives with a history of addiction, the attention to the co-occurring treatment may be the first time they’ve addressed both disorders together. This move can increase the chances at sustaining recovery beyond the initial program. It’s imperative for the CEO to also plan for continuing care. Programs with dual diagnosis treatment prioritize ways to sustain sober living long-term from the moment a client begins to receive care.

Headwaters is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

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