Depression At Work

October is National Depression Screening Month

The brain is involved in everything we do. How we think, how we feel, how we act, how well we get along with other people, is all related to the moment-by- moment functioning of the brain. When the brain is healthy, people tend to work well. When the brain is troubled, people struggle to be their best.  Depression is one of the more common medical conditions that keeps millions of people from being their best.

The National Institute for Mental Health estimates that 38 million U.S. adults have experienced depression at some point during their lifetime.

What causes Depression?
Although no single cause of depression has been identified, it appears that interaction among genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychosocial factors probably play a role. The fact is, depression is not a personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away, but it can be successfully treated.

Signs of Depression
Depression can affect the whole body, including general aches and pains, headaches, inability to sleep or excessive sleep, and weight loss or gain due to changes in appetite. Many experience a loss of pleasure or interest in activities and hobbies; they may cry unexpectedly, feel worthless or have thoughts of suicide. Another very common sign is difficulty performing at work.

Depression at Work
Depression in the workplace should not be taken lightly. When this illness strikes an employee, it greatly affects their productivity, their effectiveness on the job, and relationship with other employees and customers. According to the American Psychiatric Association in a 2008 survey, depression costs employers an estimated $44 billion a year.

Twenty percent of the $44 billion cost of depression was accounted for by absenteeism, while 80 percent of the costs, or $37.5 billion, was linked to "presenteeism," present on the job but with significantly reduced productivity.  Those interviewed for this survey stated that when depressed at work they lost an average of 5.6 hours a week of productivity versus 1.5 hours a week for persons without depression.  Common signs of depression at work include:

  • Quality and quantity of work decreases
  • Problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making
  • Lack of cooperation
  • Absenteeism/presenteeism
  • Poor attitude and conduct
  • Safety risks
  • Alcohol and drug use

Free Depression Screening
If you have questions about depression and would like a free confidential screening please visit  Or, for a confidential face-to-face visit with a HealthQuest EAP Counselor in your community at no cost to you, call toll-free 1-888-275-1205, option 7. Remember: treatment works!  Research shows more than 80%* of patients with a depressive disorder diagnosis show improvement when they receive appropriate treatment with medication and therapy.

* National Institute for Mental Health 2009.