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The Cost of Depression at Work

New research measuring the economic impact of depression in the workplace found that the total cost to the U.S. economy of major depressive disorder increased to $210 billion in 2010; a 21.5% jump from 2005. The study associated this increase with the nation’s 2008 economic downturn and tight job market, which made it harder for those with depression to retain jobs and harder for the unemployed to find work.

The study found that workers’ depression can have significant costs on the workplace. The average worker with major depression disorder lost productivity of about 32 workdays per year due to “presenteeism” or being at work but not completing tasks. For small or medium businesses, it is a difficult issue to address and it is difficult to know what effect it will have on the productivity of the business longterm.

It has been proven that persistent financial and employment stress can cause depression, which can manifest itself in many different ways. However, all of the manifestations are incredibly expensive for society in terms of productivity and health care costs. Conversely, health problems such as depressive disorder can cause financial stress, which can also lead to an overall diminished societal capacity. This combination of increased rates of depression disorder, it’s associated costs and a lack of mental health interventions to manage it, suggest that as a society, we are on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis.
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