Depression In The Workplace

Source: Ion Chiosia - 123RF

Clinical depression has become one of America’s most costly illnesses, even more so during the winter holiday season.

Left untreated, depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the US economy, costing over $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs.

Depression tends to affect people in their prime working years and may last a lifetime if untreated. More than 80 percent of people with clinical depression can be successfully treated.

With early recognition, intervention, and support, most employees can overcome clinical depression and pick up where they left off.

According to Mental Health America:

  • Depression ranks among the top three workplace problems for employee assistance professionals, following only family crisis and stress.
  • 3% of total short-term disability days are due to depressive disorders and in 76% of those cases, the employee was female.
  • In a study of First Chicago Corporations, depressive disorders accounted for more than half of all medical plan dollars paid for mental health problems. The amount for treatment of these claims was close to the amount spent on treatment for heart disease.
  • The annual economic cost of depression in 1995 was $600 per depressed worker. Nearly one-third of these costs are for treatment and 72% are costs related to absenteeism and lost productivity at work.
  • Almost 15% of those suffering from severe depression will die by suicide.
  • Often times a depressed employee will not seek treatment because they fear the effect it will have on their job and they are concerned about confidentiality.
  • Many employees are also unaware they have depression or they fear their insurance is inadequate to cover costs.
  • Most employers will refer a depressed employee for help if they are aware of the symptoms. 64% of NMHA Survey respondents said they would refer an employee to an EAP health professional.

According to Kaiser Permanente, exercise, in general, is beneficial, even when it’s indoors. Aside from daily walks, try strength training to release endorphins. Yoga’s also an excellent stress reliever — plus it builds strength and flexibility.

A healthy sleep schedule also helps. Try going to bed earlier on weekdays so that your exposure to nighttime hours is shorter. If you have trouble falling asleep early, a warm bath, gentle stretches, a good book, or a soothing cup of tea can help. Experiment and see which of these work best for you.

If you think you might be struggling with a mental health condition, take a screening and get connected to supports.

To learn more visit workplace wellnessdepressionmental health treatment, or working with a provider may help you take the next steps.