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Depression at Work

Depression at Work

Matt Krumrie / Monster Contributing Writer

How serious is depression on the job? According to nationwide labor reports and studies, it’s more serious than most of us realize. Here are some shocking statistics:

• Depression accounts for close to $12 billion in lost workdays each year.
• More than $11 billion in other costs accrue from decreased productivity due to symptoms that sap energy, affect work habits and cause problems with concentration, memory and decision making.

Costs escalate further still if a worker’s untreated depression contributes to alcohol or drug abuse. More business costs result when an employee has a family member suffering from depression. The depression of a spouse or child can disrupt working hours, lead to days absent from work, affect concentration and morale, and decrease productivity.

In a world fraught with mounting stresses, it’s more important than ever for those struggling with depression to reach out for help and for employers to meet them halfway.

Should You Talk to Your Boss?

The question of whether to discuss depression with your supervisor is never easy. “There are misconceptions about depression, so tell only people who need to know or whom you trust,” says Nancy Krahulec, the employee assistance program consultant for Minnesota Diversified Industries, a company that specializes in outsourcing products and services in the manufacturing industry. “Confide in your supervisor if you’re comfortable doing so. If you need a reduced schedule, check with your employee health program, or have your doctor write specific recommendations for work.”

Other specialists say you’re likely to get a better response from your boss if you have a plan. “Even today, mental illness often holds a stigma,” says Monster Managing and Networking Coach Joan Runnheim Olson, who also works as an EAP consultant for small businesses. “However, if your work performance has been or is on the threshold of being affected by your depression, talk with your manager and explain your situation. Assure him or her that you are seeking professional help.”

Connie Sitterly, who calls herself the Workplace Doctor and is president of Fort Worth-based Sittcom, agrees. “Every supervisor is open to hearing about your situation, but they want to know what you are doing to solve the situation,” says Sitterly, who is also a workplace speaker, author and executive coach. “If you are depressed, what are you going to do to about it, and how are you going to overcome it? Let them know ‘here is what I am doing, and I would appreciate your patience. If it is affecting my performance, I will let you know, and if it impacts anyone else, please let me know.’”

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