How depression puts employees at higher risk of workplace illness

Many discussions of workplace injuries center around ways in which employees are physically harmed. It's commonplace to hear about a worker coming down with some type of respiratory ailment down the road, hurting their back, perhaps breaking some bones or even getting cut. However, little does one hear about another serious workplace injury employees suffer from: depression.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to depression as one of the main contributing factors to both injury and disease for both sexes. In 2010 alone, illnesses caused by depression totaled $210.5 billion.

While previous CDC estimates suggest that just over 7 percent of all Americans 12 years or older suffer from depression, they estimate that more than 40 percent of those individuals experience severe symptoms. The CDC contends that these significantly impact an individual's ability to engage with others socially, adversely impacts their work performance and affects their home life.

It's believed that those afflicted with depression are more apt to call out of work more often, lose their jobs or perform work at an inferior level to others not affected by the disease. Workers who suffer from depression are also thought to be at a significantly higher risk of developing other mental health illnesses, becoming smokers or dependent on drugs or alcohol.

One study from 2000 estimated that workers suffering from depression cost their employers as much as $51 billion that one year alone. Another point emphasized in that study is that untreated depression can not just lead to workplace injuries, but cause a delay when it comes to a worker healing from them and then returning to work.

If your depression has worsened since you first started working for your employer, whether it can be attributed to work conditions or treatment you've received, then you may have suffered a workplace illness. In learning more about your mental health history and how it's evolved over time, a Dauphin, Pennsylvania, workers' compensation attorney may advise you as to whether he or she believes your case merits filing a lawsuit.

Source: Corporate Welness Magazine, "The effects of depression on workers’ compensation," accessed Sep. 19, 2017

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