Depression Is Having a Detrimental Effect on American Workers

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DepressionDepression is estimated to affect more than 20 percent of all Americans in their lifetime, and a new survey shows the widespread disease is also having an effect on workplace productivity. More than a third of the respondents said they needed time off from work because of depression and many others struggle with staying focused and productive through while living with the condition.

“The survey provides evidence surrounding the detrimental impact of depression on the US workforce and the associated stigma of the disease,” Brian Klepper, chief executive officer of the National Business Coalition on Health, said in a news release.

“The results demonstrate the vital need for employers to provide support and resources in the workplace for those suffering from this debilitating disease,” Klepper added.

Employers Health, an Ohio-based employer coalition, used the Impact of Depression at Work Audit (IDeA) surveyed 1000 working age Americans between the ages of 16 and 64 to evaluate the social and economic impact of depression in the workplace.

Medscape reports the survey results were released today at the National Business Coalition on Health Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Twenty-three percent of those surveyed reported being diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, and 39% needed time off from work as a result of their depression. The average was to take around 10 days off work the last time they experienced a depressive episode.

The causes of this work disruption mostly come from a relatively small collection of depression symptoms including low mood/sadness (78%), loss of interest in daily activities (58%), and cognitive-related problems (52%).

Nearly two thirds (64%) of the respondents experiencing depression reported that cognitive-related challenges like difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, and forgetfulness have the most impact on their ability to properly do their job.

Despite the negative impact depression has on workers, the survey found that 58% of employees with depression said they had not told their employer of their disease. Nearly half (49%) felt that telling their employer would put their job at risk, and given the economic climate, 24% felt it was too risky to share their diagnosis with their employer.

“These figures directly contribute to the estimated $100 billion annually spent on depression costs by U.S. employers including $44 billion a year in lost productivity alone. Additionally, mental illness short-term disability claims are growing by 10 percent annually,” according to the news release.

The report also found that roughly 35% of managers surveyed reported having no formal support or resources to assist employees with depression.

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