Anxiety Disorders in the Workplace

Having an anxiety disorder can make a major impact in the workplace. People may turn down a promotion or other opportunity because it involves travel or public speaking; make excuses to get out of office parties, staff lunches, and other events or meetings with coworkers; or be unable to meet deadlines.

In a national survey on anxiety in the workplace, people with anxiety disorders commonly cited these as difficult situations: dealing with problems; setting and meeting deadlines; maintaining personal relationships; managing staff; participating in meetings, and making presentations. 

Tell Your Employer?

It’s your decision to tell your employer about your anxiety disorder. Some people do so because they need accommodations, others want to educate people about their condition, and some do not want to hide their illness.

If you have a physical or mental disability and are qualified to do a job, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) protects you from job discrimination. Being qualified means you must satisfy an employer’s requirements for the job and be able to perform essential functions on your own or with reasonable accommodation. An employer cannot refuse to hire you because your disability prevents you from performing duties that are not essential to the job. Find out more about employment rights.  

Managing Anxiety Symptoms at Work

Keep these ideas in mind to keep your work life manageable:

  • Work! In addition to financial reasons, working can be important for your self-esteem and it adds to your social identity.
  • Tell a trusted coworker. Knowing that someone accepts your condition can be comforting and it may reduce any anticipatory anxiety about having a panic attack at work. 
  • Educate yourself. Learn to recognize the symptoms of your disorder and how to handle them if you experience any at work.

Getting Help

It’s important to find help for anxiety, stress, and related disorders. Search for a therapist near you.

With treatment, most people find significant improvement. Several standard approaches have proved effective. Your health care professional will use one or a combination of these treatments:

 

Resources

American Psychological Association Workplace Issues

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Facts About the Americans With Disabilities Act

Mental Health America

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ADAA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, OCD, PTSD, depression, and related disorders and to improving the lives of all people who suffer from them.

 

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