Medical Leave for Depression

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medical leave for depression

Can You Go on Medical Leave For Depression?

Depression can truly affect all aspects of your life, and that includes your job. It can impair you to the point that it keeps you from being able to perform job tasks. Being unable to think or function as you would prior to the mood disorder can cause a great deal of stress. When you can no longer perform the tasks needed on the job, taking a break seems like the best option.

When depression makes it hard to function at work, you can request a leave of absence. The HR rep will help you fill out the correct papers to secure a valid leave so you can get some treatment. There are benefits there for people to access, which are provided through federal laws like the Family Leave Act. It can be hard to file the forms through the detailed system, so be sure to have someone in HR assist you with your medical leave for depression process.

What Are the Signs of Depression?

Depression is the second most common mental health issue in the U.S. The NIMH reports that over 17 million adults deal with this illness each year. The effects of depression are costly to the country, costing tens of billions of dollars per year. Most of this cost is due to lost work through absence and impaired work.

Depression comes in many forms, each with unique features. Treatment for depression will be based on which type of problem is present. The most common type of depression is major depressive disorder:

  • Major depressive disorder. MDD involves five or more of these symptoms lasting for two weeks or longer:
  • Feelings of sadness or despair
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in eating habits, weight changes
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Other types of depression include:

  • Dysthymia
  • Postpartum depression
  • PDD
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Bipolar depression.

What Steps Should You Take to Prepare for a Medical Leave?

When you approach your boss to request a medical leave for depression, you will need to have taken the proper steps. If you are seeking just a few days off, there is no need to go into detail about the mental health issue. In this case, you will ask the boss to arrange for time off to get some rest and treatment.

But when needing a longer leave, say up to 12 weeks, you will need to provide a doctor’s note. These can be records or comments about how the illness requires treatment. This shows that you are being treated for the depression. The mental health records will need to be sent over to the disability insurance provider.

It is important to note that there are some limits on the FMLA. The Act applies to companies with 50 or more employees. Also, you must have worked at least 1250 hours in the past 12 months to get approved through the Act.

Laws that Protect a Medical Leave for Depression

Under the terms of the ADA law, you are not required to disclose the nature of your illness to the boss. In order to get the time off, though, the worker will have to share their health records. Still, HR is required to keep your illness private. When time off is needed to meet the needs of a mental health event there are some laws that protect your job:

Family and Medical Leave Act

The FMLA is a federal program that allows workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work. During this time they are free from their work duties to obtain treatment for a health or mental health condition. The law protects your job until you return from leave, so it will be there waiting for you.

Paid leave from employer benefits

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Some jobs offer short-term disability pay. This will pay a portion of your income while you are on leave. Others may offer a certain number of paid-time-off days, such as sick days.

State disability insurance

Some states deduct monthly insurance payments from the paycheck to cover short-term leaves for mental health needs. In CA, AB-402 was passed in 2014, which provides pay for leaves that involve severe mental illness.

Social Security Disability 

Section 12 of the SSA Blue Book is dedicated to mental health. To get these payments you will have to show you meet the guidelines. These include medical proof that you are in treatment for depression.

Depression Treatment

When taking a medical leave for depression treatment you may wish to receive outpatient care or a higher level of care. An inpatient treatment program or a mental health retreat will provide a much more focused approach.

These mental health centers offer 24-hour support and a wide range of treatments. A psych hospital will provide the highest level of care. These offer acute stabilization services for helping someone in crisis. The level of care needed will depend on the features of the illness.

Treatment of MDD follows a common pathway using drugs and therapy:

Antidepressants. Meds designed for shifting brain chemistry remain the first line of treatment for MDD. There are four types of these drugs on the market, and about 30 brands. The doctor will attempt to select the one that is best aligned with the patient’s type of mood issue. Each type of depression is going to direct the exact type of drug that works best. These drugs take about 4 weeks to relieve symptoms. It is common for a patient to trial 2 or 3 drugs before finding the right fit with the least side effects.

Psychotherapy. Therapy is prescribed in tandem with the meds. These sessions provide the patient with a chance to work through any issues, such as grief and loss or trauma. CBT is used for treating depression. This type of short-term therapy can help patients reshape their thought patterns.

Mental Health Hope Guidance for Depression Treatment

Mental Health Hope is an online resource that provides free mental health info and treatment options. To restore wellness and return to work you need a tailored treatment plan designed just for your unique needs. Reach out to the team at Mental Health Hope for guidance today at (877) 967-9274.

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