The Economic Impact of Depression in the Workplace

Dec 8, 2015 by


Depression is something that American businesses deal with discretely while it continues to cost them incredible sums of money with lost productivity, higher levels of absenteeism, and contributions towards treatment costs.

The issue of depression affects all levels of workers and all work-appropriate age groups rather than being something that only affects workers near the end of their useful working life or those just starting out.

Economic Impact to Businesses in the USA

It is understood that the losses due to depression costs as much as either AIDS or heart disease illness which is somewhat surprising to many people. This is because the sense of “I’m okay…” pervades with no one wanting to admit that they feel depressed.

A co-worker is likely to tell the person suffering to “cheer up” or “keep their chin up” which are both sentiments that do not actually help when it comes to clinical depression.

The cost to the US businesses can be as much as $51 billion per year in reduced productivity levels of depressed workers. An additional $26 billion is spend on direct treatment for depression.

Traditional Treatment Duration

Treatment can be conducted over different periods of time. Therapy is often called for in order to help bring to the surface what the root cause of the depression actually is. In other cases, a course of medication may be prescribed as a way to chemically lift the mood or numb the feelings of the depressed sufferer.

Over 80 percent of reported cases of clinical depression are successfully treated. An ability to recognize the symptoms of depression early, intervening to deal with the issue before it becomes more serious (or even life-threatening), and providing ongoing support to the employee is often the package of measures necessary to resolve the issue. Once past the depressive episode and without a recurrence, the employee can usually go back to being a healthy, productive employee and a team player.

New Treatment Options

Dr. Bradley A. Jabour has pioneered a new treatment which involves taking a standard MRI and a functional MRI to literally see the brain activity in real-time. Then a technique akin to being directed via GPS to treat the areas of the brain connected to depression is used known as transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Smart Brain and Health recently conducted a Q&A with Dr. Jabour to discuss this new treatment for depression which is non-invasive and does not require any medication.

Depression in the Top 3 Employee Workplace Issues

Depression is included in the top 3 problems for employers and employees. The other two most common issues are stress and a family crisis. Whilst stress can eventually be a contributing factor for a cardiac arrest, depression is often the more immediate concern as 15 percent of cases of severe depression sadly lead to suicide. Therefore, depression needs to be taken extremely seriously by employers.

Employees with depressive symptoms can be referred by the employer to an EAP health professional for assistance. The symptoms of depression vary from person to person from a loss of appetite or interest in intimacy with a partner, to a general lethargic feeling or more serious feelings of loss of worth, identity and hope.

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