How to find work while living with depression

A young woman with depression being interviewed for a job

Living with a complex or chronic mental health condition can make life feel uncertain; but there is support

Depression can have a major impact on your day to day life, including your ability to work. It might feel hard to find and keep a job but working in a supportive environment can actually be positive for your mental health.

In this guide, you will find a range of topics and tools to help you look for work while living with depression. We’ve included tips including how to search for jobs, how to manage interviews and where to get help if you need it.

Table of contents:

a man with depression sitting on a couch with his head in his hands in despair about finding a job

Can I get a job if I have depression?Can I get a job if I have depression?

Finding meaningful work can feel overwhelming, particularly in a challenging job market. If you are living with depression, you might experience challenges which make it feel unmanageable.

If you have depression, you might:

  • find it hard to concentrate and stay motivated
  • lose interest in activities that you used to find enjoyable.
  • experience physical symptoms such as tiredness, nausea and aching muscles.

Some people with depression also struggle with excess worry and feelings of guilt that they are letting others down. All of these symptoms can make looking for work or keeping a job feel difficult.

However, if you want to work there is a job out there for you. One suited to your capacity, which allows you to manage your emotional wellbeing.

There’s also support available to help you keep your job and continue working with confidence. In fact, working can be a really positive step if you are living with depression.

Working can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It gives you the opportunity to make new friendships and connections, and helps improve your financial security.

Job ideas for people with depressionJob ideas for people with depression

People with depression find fulfilling jobs and careers in all sorts of industries.

Some find they work best in flexible jobs or jobs that have clear goals. Others enjoy working in social roles that are focused on helping others. Whatever your skills and passions are, there is a job for you.

When you find work that you’re passionate about or confident doing, it can be easier to manage the challenges that come with depression.

Needing a little inspiration? Here are some great job ideas to get you started:

  • Flexible jobs. Jobs that let you work remotely or have flexible hours are a great option if the typical 9 to 5 schedule is hard to manage. Examples of flexible jobs include freelance writing, taxi driving, social media management, computer programming, web design and graphic design.
  • Jobs that make a difference. Doing work that helps others can give you a sense of purpose and meaning. Examples include counselling, psychology, fitness training, aged care and nursing.
  • Jobs in the outdoors. Working in fresh air, sunshine and nature can be beneficial for your mental health. Examples of outdoor roles include landscaper, gardener, park ranger and animal care worker. Check out how Emma found working outdoors gave her a sense of purpose.
  • Jobs that are physical. Jobs which require you to be active can be beneficial for your mental health. Examples include massage therapy, carpentry, physiotherapy and dog walking.
  • Jobs that connect you with others. Jobs that have social interactions can give you a sense of connection and belonging. Examples include tutoring, librarianship, accounting, retail jobs and child care.

How to get started finding a job if you’re living with depressionHow to get started finding a job if you’re living with depression

If you’re wondering how to go about about getting a job, the first step is to know what kind of job you’re looking for. Before you start searching, take some time to brainstorm what you want in a job.

Write down things like:

  • What types of jobs you like or know how to do.
  • What your skills, strengths and passions are.
  • The type of work environment you need or want.
  • Whether you want to work in a team or by yourself.
  • What kind of hours you want to work.
  • What sort of pay you need to support your lifestyle.
  • Any accommodations you might need such as flexible hours or a private working space.

Once you have a clearer idea of what types of jobs you’re looking for, it’s time to start searching!

You can find jobs by:

  • searching on the internet.
  • asking your family, friends and peers.
  • reaching out to employers that you want to work for.

Finding a job that’s a good fit can take a long time. It is normal to feel discouraged along the way. The good news is, if you want to work there is a job out there for you.

Here are some tips to help you stay positive during your search:

  • Create a routine and stick to it. For example, getting up everyday at 9am and spending three hours searching for jobs.
  • Be organised. Create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of where you’ve applied.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthily, exercise and get enough sleep.
  • Do things that you enjoy. Job searching can take a lot of time, but don’t forget to do things for fun too.
  • Know that you’re not alone. Feeling discouraged about job searching is normal.
  • Practice positive self talk. Try to speak to yourself positively, and don’t give the negative feelings too much attention.
  • Get help. Surround yourself with friends and professionals who can support you.

For more information, check out our guide on how to search for jobs.

young woman with a smile on her face for overcoming her depression and starting a new job at a takeaway coffee van

Writing your resume and CVWriting your resume and CV

An important step when looking for work is writing your resume or curriculum vitae (CV).

These documents show an employer the skills, experience and strengths you can bring to the job. In your resume, you want to put your best foot forward.

You should include information about your work history, education and any qualifications you have. You should also explain the skills and qualities that make you an excellent choice for the job.

For more information, check out our guide on how to write an effective resume and cover letter.

Managing your depression during the interview processManaging your depression during the interview process

It is normal to feel stressed and worried about an interview. But when you’re living with depression, fear of failure and low self esteem can make it hard to put your best foot forward.

The good news is there are things you can do to help you manage interviews more confidently.

Here are some great tips for managing interviews:

  • Get prepared. Research the company and prepare answers for common interview questions. You will feel more in control when you have prepared. Know your strengths.
  • Take time before the interview to figure out what you're good at and what makes you stand out.
  • Practice confidence, even if you don’t feel it. Picture yourself in the interview being cool, calm and collected.
  • Focus on now. It’s easy to think about what might go wrong in the interview. Instead, try to focus on the here and now.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep before the interview.

Once it’s all over, do something nice for yourself. However the interview went, you made it through and that’s worth celebrating!

Managing your depression in the workplaceManaging your depression in the workplace

Depression symptoms can make work difficult. However, staying in your job is often very beneficial in the long run.

If you are finding work difficult because of your depression, help is available.

You may be able to get accommodations at work which make things easier for you. These could include flexible hours, working from home, paid leave for days off or a quiet working space.

If you cannot arrange accommodations yourself, APM and NDIS offer support services that can help you stay in your role.

These services include:

  • advice about redesigning your job
  • workplace assessments to see what’s possible
  • workplace changes so you can continue to work
  • providing specialised equipment to help you do your job.

a middle aged man with depression doing a job interview via video call

Need a little help? We are here for you.

When you’re living with depression, looking for a job can be difficult. At APM, we are passionate about helping people like you manage the world of work with confidence.

Every week we support thousands of people as they look for work. We also support many others to stay in their job when they are living with depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.

If you want to work, we want to help you find the right job. When you reach out to APM, we’ll get to know you and your story in a safe and supportive environment. Our approach is personal and sensitive.

We can help you:

  • manage mental health issues that might be making it hard to get work
  • recognise your strengths and skills for work
  • gain new skills you might need for the workplace
  • get the support and information you need to succeed in your new job

If you’re ready to find work, we want to be there for you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today and let’s get to work!