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Some years ago, I had to deal with one of my most interesting cases in coaching. A senior executive who was doing fairly well in his career suddenly began to show symptoms of disinterest in his work. His colleagues and team members found him very easily irritable, small setbacks which he would ordinarily take in his stride became triggers for strong reactions. He became withdrawn and subject to wild swings in mood. One moment he was highly energized and after some time went into a slump.

When I began talking to him, I could sense that his mind was clogged with anxieties about the future. A few events that might have disturbed him included: the distinct possibility of his not getting a promotion to higher responsibilities, the “danger” of being superseded by another person who was younger than him. This led to his losing trust in others and consequently spoiling relationships with a few important people in his organization. This had never happened before.

After spending time with him and trying to understand his issues, I realized that what he needed was not just coaching but psychological counselling or psychotherapy.

Each year an estimated 17 million Americans experience a period of clinical depression. Depression is a psychological condition that changes how you think and feel. It adversely affects your social behaviour and sense of physical well being.

According to Psychology Information Online, a major depression is marked by a combination of symptoms that occur together and last for at least 2 weeks without significant improvement.

Symptoms include :

  • Persistent depressed, sad , anxious or empty mood
  • Feeling worthless, helpless or experiencing excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Hopeless about the future, excessive pessimistic feelings
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in your usual activities
  • Decreased energy an chronic fatigue
  • Loss of memory, difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Irritability or restlessness or agitation
  • Sleep disturbances, either difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite and interest in food or overeating with weight gain
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts or actions

If others you work with happen to display some of these symptoms, firstly recognize that something could be very wrong. Try to understand the reasons why.  Last but not the least get them to seek specialist advice.

This is what we did in the case the executive we spoke of earlier. Over the next few months he went through psychotherapy and gained enough confidence to make his career a success.

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This is the 151 st of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success

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