Is Depression a Disability Under the ADA?

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Some disabilities are invisible to the outside viewer, but that does not make them any less legitimate when it comes to disability claims. Depression and other mental or emotional disorders can qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

According to the ADA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Let’s break this definition down into the base components:

A physical or mental impairment. Depression, a mood disorder that creates a “persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest,” qualifies as a mental impairment under the ADA.

  • “Substantial limitation”: Under the ADA, a substantial limitation exists when a person’s ability to perform important tasks is limited compared to an average member of the population. Depression can make it so that a person is unable to perform certain tasks at the same level as his or her peers.
  • A “major life activity”: Activities that are central to a person’s everyday life qualify as major life activities. Things like walking, talking, standing, seeing and hearing all qualify. Depression can affect the proper functioning of a person’s neurological system, thus qualifying as a substantial limitation on a person’s ability to function through major life activities.

Unfortunately, employers can be difficult when it comes to requesting accommodations for non-visible disabilities like depression. That said, legally, under the ADA, you are entitled to reasonable accommodation that will help you perform necessary tasks despite your disability. This can include things like alterations to your work schedule, time off for therapy appointments and more.

Written on behalf of Marc Whitehead by™