Study finds depressed employees take twice as many sick days

April 30, 2001

Decreased performance is seven times as high

Washington, D.C.- A just-released longitudinal study - adding to the growing body of scientific evidence on employee productivity - confirms that depression is common in the workplace and detrimental to employee performance. These findings are reported in the May issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, the monthly scientific journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

The study found that absenteeism due to health problems was twice as high for employees with depressive symptoms compared to those without depressive symptoms. The study also revealed that the likelihood of decreased performance on the job is seven times higher for depressed employees.

The Yale University research investigators termed decreased productivity on the job as "presenteeism" and was a likely result of employee reluctance to report an illness or to consider depression a "legitimate reason" for taking sick leave.

"The perceived stigma associated with depressive disorders may thus result in a high proportion of hidden costs to employers that are not readily evident from health or disability claims data," they said.

The longitudinal study of more than 6,000 employees at three corporations took a close look at the relationship between depression, satisfaction with health care and employee productivity.

The study also found that employees who complained about their health care -including problems with access, communications, choice and continuity of care-were also more likely to be depressed and work less productively.

According to Lloyd Sederer, M.D., Director of the Division of Clinical Services for the American Psychiatric Association, "The message is clear: there is both medical and financial value in better detection and effective treatment for depression in the workplace."

"The APA is strongly committed to working with employers to greatly improve access to quality psychiatric care," said Norman Clemens, M.D., chair of APA's Committee on APA/Business Relationships. "Quality psychiatric care is good for employees and their families, and it makes economic good sense for business."

APA, which has taken an active role in working with businesses to promote employee productivity, will conduct sessions at its 154th Annual Meeting that address mental health and its effects on workplace and business issues.
For more information on APA's Annual Meeting, which will be held May 5-10 in New Orleans, La., contact Kimberly Cordero (202/682-6394 until May 2, 504/760-5008 May 4-10.)

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose 38,000 physicians members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

American Psychiatric Association

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