Why Depression Is A Big Business Risk

If I told you there was a single employee health problem that’s more expensive to employers than a heart attack, and more costly than high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking put together, I’d be willing to bet that you wouldn’t be able to guess its identity – and you wouldn’t be alone. While depression is well on its way to becoming the most expensive health care issue by 2020, it’s a little-known giant of a healthcare problem right now. Depression episodes happen to between 13 and 15 million American employees every year, and depression the leading cause of lost productivity and work time. That’s why recognizing and dealing with mild depression is an important key to keeping business costs down.

What are some of the common symptoms of mild depression? They include general malaise, feelings of apathy and sadness, frequent irritability, loss of interest in hobbies, relationships, and work, changes in eating and sleep habits, and reduction of sexual appetite, among others. While many of us experience these symptoms for brief episodes on a somewhat regular basis, what separates depression from normal daily mood swings is its duration. Depression symptoms can endure for weeks, months, and even years in some cases.

Is depression hereditary? Insurers have taken a close actuarial look at this question, and it’s one employers can be aware of as an additional employee depression risk factor as well. Employees whose families have a background of mild through severe depression are more likely to experience depression themselves. Just like other genetic characteristics, though, a family history of depression does not doom an employee to developing any depression symptoms themselves.

While drugs are a common treatment method for depression, medications have an inconclusive record of performance, and are very expensive. For that reason, drug therapy should be avoided in most cases. Getting lots of exercise and rest, eating a healthy diet that’s low in starches, sugars, and other simple carbohydrates, avoiding alcohol consumption (alcohol and depression are conclusively linked), and seeking professional counseling help to work through feelings of guilt, sadness or anger, are much more effective depression treatment methods.

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