Home > Safety, Security > The Great (Workplace) Depression

The Great (Workplace) Depression

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

No, the title does not refer to economic depression. It refers to the reality that mental and emotional depression in the workplace is common, costly—and treatable.

Employee depression is a major problem for U.S. employers and is costing a bundle. Training employees about symptoms and treatments makes good business sense.

The good news is that depression is also highly treatable—more than 80 percent can successfully overcome clinical depression—as long as sufferers seek treatment. It’s a good idea, then, to train your workers on the symptoms and the treatments for depression.

Give your workers this checklist of symptoms from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH – www.nlm.nih.gov). Ask them to consider the questions for themselves and for co-workers whose attitude seems to have changed. Do you experience:

  • Ongoing sad, anxious, or empty feelings?
  • Feelings of hopelessness?
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness?
  • Irritability or restlessness?
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable, including sex?
  • Constant tiredness?
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions?
  • Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep (insomnia)?
  • Sleeping all the time?
  • Overeating or loss of appetite?
  • Thoughts of suicide or making suicide attempts?
  • Ongoing aches and pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not go away?

Let workers know that if they experience these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, they need to seek help as soon as possible.

Encourage your employees to take the following steps if they think they (or a co-worker) may be suffering from depression:

  1. Seek treatment—and encourage others to do so. Some people are reluctant to speak up because they worry how such an admission will affect their career or that their insurance won’t cover treatment. But the earlier people seek help, the more quickly they can recover and resume normal life. Give your workers the contact information for your employer’s employee assistance program officer.
  2. Speak with your doctor to get a complete diagnostic evaluation, including onset, frequency, and severity of symptoms; family history; other medications you’re taking and possible side effects; and other relevant information.
  3. Follow the prescribed treatment, which may include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or alternative remedies.

Economic depression isn’t the only type of depression that can harm workplace productivity. Consult with your HR department to find out if emotional depression is enough of an issue in your workplace that wellness training about depression would be worth your and your employees’ time. The statistics say that it probably is.

  • According to a recent report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA – http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/), almost 15 percent of adults over the age of 18 (31 million) have experienced a major depression episode (MDE) in their lives.
  • The two age groups that had the highest rate of MDEs in the past year (more than 10 percent each) were those aged 18 to 25 and 35 to 49—in other words, people in the prime of their working lives.
  • SAMSHA says that depression is one of the leading causes of disability.
  • As such, it’s estimated that depression costs around $12 billion in lost workdays each year, with another $11 billion lost because of decreased productivity from depressive symptoms.
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Categories: Safety, Security
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  1. September 7, 2012 at 10:09 PM
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