By Edward Murphy, Psy.D., Director, BMR Psychology Associates
Clinical depression has become one of America's most costly illnesses. Left untreated, depression is as costly as major medical illnesses including heart disease and cancer. The National Institute of Mental Health Data Center indicates it costs over $43.7 billion in absenteeism from work (over 200 million days lost from work each year), lost productivity and 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.
Various studies have been completed and these facts are known:
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 commit suicide.
SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION:
No two people experience clinical depression in the same manner. Symptoms will vary in severity and duration among different people. Seek mental health treatment if you experience five or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood.
Sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much.
Reduced appetite and/or weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain.
Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
Persistent physical symptoms that don't respond to treatment (such as headaches, chronic pain or digestive disorders).
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
Fatigue or loss of energy.
Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.
Thoughts of suicide or death.>
Depression is a treatable condition. Early intervention will result in greater opportunity for more effective management. Understanding the disorder will help to minimize the impact on one's personal, social, and occupational well being.
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