Conditions accompanying depression significantly affect mental and physical health reducing quality of life and lowering workplace productivity.
The new study was presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting.
In the study, which used an integrated database of healthcare claims and surveys of almost 14,000 employees at two large U.S. firms, researchers analyzed data on healthcare spending and presenteeism (i.e., employees’ estimates of their own productivity while at work) to assess the impact of depression and other chronic conditions.
“While depression itself has a significant economic impact, the negative effect on both workplace productivity and healthcare costs can be considerably increased when employees who are depressed also suffer from other conditions,” said Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., Professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.
Overall, among the ten most prevalent physical and mental conditions measured, depression had the single largest negative effect on work productivity. That effect was magnified when fatigue, sleep problems and anxiety – conditions that often co-occur with depression – were also present.
Further, while depression had significant adverse effects on productivity in the absence of other co-morbid conditions, effects of these other conditions in the absence of depression were not as pronounced.
“These findings suggest we should aim to identify and minimize multiple factors associated with depression early to reduce this burden.”
Among the most prevalent physical and mental conditions, depression had the largest negative effect on overall work performance, followed by fatigue, anxiety, chronic sleeping problems, obesity.
Painful conditions also had large effects. However, when the effect of each condition was examined while controlling for comorbid depression, the independent effect of the condition was diminished.
This suggests that the other conditions examined in this study have their biggest impact on work performance when they occur with depression.