Having an anxiety disorder can have a major impact in the workplace. People may turn down a promotion or other opportunities because it involves travel or public speaking for example. The number of persons with anxiety disorders is steadily increasing which of course also influences their jobs. However, only a small amount of these individuals discloses their diagnosis to their employers or seek professional help for their illness.

The most common anxiety disorders found in the workplace are: Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), Specific Phobias, Social anxiety disorder, Panic disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Anxiety disorders affect the workplace in various ways. It has been found that the symptoms of anxiety have a great impact on overall job performance, relationship with co-workers and superiors, work engagement and work satisfaction. According to a survey on anxiety disorders in the workplace people with anxiety disorders commonly cited the following as difficult situations: dealing with problems; setting and meeting deadlines; maintaining personal relationships; managing staff; participating in meetings and making presentations. In sum, the whole work productivity suffers from having an anxiety disorder, except when an individual chooses to do something about it.

How to manage anxiety in the workplace:

  • Speaking to superior and to co-workers about the illness.
  • Being aware of as well as working within one’s own limits.
  • Asking for help if needed
  • Staying organized and planning effectively.
  • Taking advantage of employer resources (e.g. wellness programmes that are available to employees).
  • Being mindful – recognize for symptoms and when the anxiety takes over.
  • Keeping to healthy habits – exercising, eating healthfully, getting enough sleep…

Although anxiety disorders can be very sorrowful and unpleasant, for many people successfully maintaining a job is an essential part of recovery and well-being!
Employers can help with this under-taking by creating an informed and accommodating work environment.

This can be achieved by:

  • Educating employees and managers about mental disorders, including anxiety disorders.
  • Promoting the use of a health programs for employees.
  • Ensuring a supportive, empathetic and understanding environment.

Further, it is important to recognize these symptoms and to seek professional help. With treatment, most people find significant improvement and feel better soon. Don’t let pride, fear of stigma or ignorance inhibit your way to healing.