Since Americans spend so much of their lives working, it makes sense that depression affects people on the job well as outside of work. In fact, clinical depression is a very costly illness for businesses. According to the organization Mental Health America, more than 200 million days of work are missed each year due to employee depression, mostly by women, not to mention lost productivity at work and the measurable costs of treatment. In one corporate study, depression and its associated disorders were responsible for more than half of all the mental-health plan dollars spent by the companies, nearing the amount their medical plans spent on treating employee heart disease.

Yet employees suffering from depression do not always seek treatment. They may be unaware they’re depressed, or fear they’ll lose their jobs if they reveal they’re depressed. Perhaps they don’t realize their health insurance covers treatment for depression. And so they report to work, physically present but mentally impaired. This so-called “presenteeism” can greatly hamper productivity, not just for the depressed employees but for others with whom they work. A Tufts University study found that depressed individuals had a significantly tougher time managing their job-related tasks than people without depression, and more of them suffered job losses.

The good news? More than four-fifths of depressed people can be helped. The first step is to recognize that you’re suffering from depression. Fatigue, irritability, inability to concentrate, and persistent feelings of sadness may indicate that you have a problem. If you have close friends at work you may want to confide in them, but think twice before making a department-wide announcement. You may need time away from work; check with your human resources department about taking a disability leave. Speak to your doctor about starting treatment, whether it’s antidepressants or counseling or both. If you and your doctor determine that you can stay on the job, there are things you can do to make your workday easier:

  • Break large tasks into small chunks. After completing each one, give yourself a small reward such as a five-minute stretching session or the promise of a noontime walk in the sun.
  • Keep your calendar up to date, with clearly marked deadlines.
  • Eat lunch with your coworkers every day. Keeping yourself isolated will only worsen your symptoms.
  • Print and save every note, card or comment from others praising your work.

Remember, depression is a manageable illness—it’s all a matter of reaching out to the resources around you.