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Anxiety at Work

answered 08:58 AM EST, Tue July 09, 2013
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anonymous anonymous
Is anxiety considered a disability? Will my employer have to let me work from home if I have panic attacks at work? Would that be considered a reasonable accommodation of my disorder? I could easily do the work remotely, but the company has a policy of not allowing remote workers. Who would I need to talk to to get documentation supporting the existence of my condition? Would a regular doctor do or does it have to be a psychiatrist or psychologist? I would only need this if it became a legal matter because everyone at me company knows about my problems and has seen me having a panic attack.

Takiya Paicely Says...

Takiya Paicely T. Paicely
MSW, LCSW

Anonymous, these are some great questions.  I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing these issues.  Anxiety can be debilitating for many people.  Oftentimes, for it to be considered a disability, it has to be determined by a physician and/or mental health professional (i.e. counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist).  I would strongly recommend you schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor, a therapist, and psychiatrist.  Your doctor will be able to complete a full physical to make sure that there are no underlying medical issues.  A therapist will be able to help you learn how to find ways to manage with your anxiety.  A psychiatrist will be able to help you determine if medication, in addition to counseling will be helpful.  Both counseling and medication management may help you be able to complete your job duties at your office.

I would also encourage you to speak with your HR department to determine what your company's policies are regarding disabilities and what supportive documentation is needed.  A company will need to have supportive documentation from a physician and other health professionals (depending on the disability) to know that accommodations are needed.  If the company is not able to reasonably accommodate your needs, then they may or may not be legally beholden to do so if accommodations cannot be arranged due to the nature of the job, however, they would have to document what they have tried and why it may not have been helpful.  I would also recommend consulting with an attorney who specializes in employee law.

Without supportive documentation stating that accommodations are needed for your to complete your job duties, your employer may not be legally responsible to make accommodations.  I hope that this was helpful to you.  I hope that you consider getting help to manage your anxiety symptoms.  It can be helpful learning ways to manage and cope with anxiety, there will be good days and not so good days, but it can be managed.

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