Depression Costs Businesses This Much Each Year
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Depression costs workplaces about $23 billion a year just due to absenteeism, according to a recent Gallup Poll , which found workers diagnosed with major depressive disorders call out of work between four and five more days than their non-depressed counterparts. Not covered by Gallup is the cost of depression on the individual, which can be financially devastating in both one's career and personal life. Depressed people are at higher risks for job stagnancy, divorce, financial strain and alcohol abuse.
The mental disorder isn't just a hindrance; it's a debilitating disease with severe costs felt worldwide. The World Health Organization ranks depression as "the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease."
Ronald Kessler, Ph.D, who is the McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and has worked on numerous studies on depression, describes the path of the disorder in what can be described as almost cyclical, or like a snake eating itself. According to Kessler, the most damaging financial consequence of depression is "not getting a job that lives up to the individual's ability" which "is due to a combination of depression leading to low educational attainment, not applying for jobs one could do because of low self esteem and not progressing as far up a chosen career ladder as one could because of poor performance."
Poor on-the-job performance can also mean being fired or costing the workplace money. It can be especially harmful in hazardous environments where injury and accidents are likely to occur. Being demoted because of bad performance reinforces feelings of low-self esteem and inability of success.
Hiding from problems like unpaid bills can also become a cycle. Since depression saps energy, the willingness and means to fix a financial problem, like a sinking credit score, fades. According to Guy Winch, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Emotional First Aid (Hudson Street Press, 2013), a combination of "passivity, helplessness, and apathy" which accompany depression create a "recipe for financial problems."
"People might skip payments on their credit cards or mortgages, not because they don't have the money but because they just can't get themselves to write out the checks," he said. "If bills require any additional action, such as transferring funds from one account to another, it often doesn't get done."
Another concerning element: depression occurs rather close to the marrying age. The National Institute for Mental Health says the average age of onset for depression is 32. That's about five years near the average U.S. woman gets married (27 years), and three years for men (29 years). One study, published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica in 2011, conducted a multinational survey of 18 mental disorders and found that out of all 18, depression was one of three disorders associated with the highest risk for divorce and remaining unmarried. The disease can put added, unfamiliar stresses on a relationship. It can cause a spouse to act irrationally, like with spouts of anger, or cause one to act disassociated.