Depression in a Virtual Team

What is depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It is treatable. (​Source)

Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.​


How frequent is depression?

One in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year​.

On average, depression first appears during the late teens to mid-20s​.

The average age of first or consecutive onset is 32​.


Common signs and symptoms of depression

(Sources: 1 and 2)

The symptoms vary from mild to severe.

Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression.

There can be a trigger that precedes a depressive disorder

Women are more likely to ruminatehave negative self-talk, sudden crying spells, feelings of guilt, or blaming oneself

Men with depression are more likely to show signs of irritability, anger, apathy, escapist behavior (like spending more time at work), or reckless behavior (like misusing alcohol or other substances).

How to deal with someone having depression

What can a person suspecting depression do?


116 123 crisis intervention help line for adults

116 111 crisis intervention help line for children and teenagers

800 70 22 22 support center for people in mental health crisis

More possibilities here 

  1. Seek help actively
  2. Seek help in mental health helplines (maybe your organization has a contract with one)
  3. Visit a psychiatrist
  4. Be open about their condition with at least one trusted person
  5. Trust that medication and / or therapy will help
  6. Go to emergency if you are feeling very bad

Team member is coping with depression

How to start a conversations?

  • Prepare – list the unusual behaviors
  • Right time and space – privacy
  • How are you feeling?”, „How have you been doing recently?”
  • I have noticed that recently you…”, „I am concerned because I have observed that…”
  • Listen
  • If those difficulties persistthere is an option to seek professional help”, „It was helpful for my colleague in a similar situation to…”

What to do next?

  • Talk to the affected person with respect – to agree with them how can the issue be presented to the team
  • Ask them what they need from yourself and the team
  • Conduct a meeting with the team to open up the situation to the degree agreed upon with the person
  • Make necessary arrangements

In long term….

  • It seems that the connectionbelonging and social bonds are a necessity in treating depression
  • One of the theories is that it is triggered by important psychological needs being unmet
  • This could explain why it happens more often in online work


If you want to learn more about this topic, check the full webinar: Depression in a Virtual Team


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If you want to work on your competence, skills needed in a remote work or wellbing in your team, ETTA Leadership & Culture specialises in and provides training on development programmes for leaders and teams. See the offer.


​Photo by Nik Shuliahin ???????? on Unsplash