Depression Still a Challenge in the Workplace
> 7/16/2007 1:19:49 PM

The blues—at some point or other everyone deals with them, be it following a stressful day at work or after a conflict with a loved one. But what happens when negative feelings become so extreme, they begin to hinder your ability to adequately perform your job? According to a study released by Mental Health America, 80 percent of women diagnosed with depression, reported the condition had prevented them for attaining many of their professional goals. In some cases the mood disorder has been so damaging it has thrown people’s careers totally off track. Many health care providers believe the stigma attached to the disorder is still negative and therefore many suffers continue to forgo treatment.

Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a piece that ran this past week, Julie Rexrode, a sufferer who concealed her disorder from her family and colleagues, explained why she chose to not seek help:

"There's a stigma. People look at you differently, like (you're) a crazy person. I didn't want the stigma placed on me. People don't understand. It's a disease, just like cancer."

According to statistics obtained by Mental Health America, both direct and indirect costs associated with depression cost U.S businesses almost $44 billion per year. The Journal-Constitution also cites a Harvard study that put those losses closer to $50 billion.

Another growing concern by many health care providers is the inadequate insurance coverage provided by companies for suffers of the mood disorder. Many argue that the companies which do offer mental health insurance, don’t offer an adequate amount to protect and care for their employees.

In speaking to the Journal-Constitution, Ellyn Jaeger, director of public policy and advocacy for Mental Health America of Georgia explained:

"People have insurance, but (mental health coverage) is not on parity (with other medical coverage). Those who have some type of mental health coverage often get only limited doctor visits”, which she added is not enough.

According to mental health experts, women suffer from the illness twice as much as men, and many experts agree that, in part, it has to do with the multiple roles women take on, such as caregiver, wife, mother and employee. This was the case with Rexrode, who candidly revealed spending much of the 1990’s confined to her home, unable to work and paralyzed by the disorder.

"I'd get up in the morning. I'd get my kids off to school. I'd go back to bed until my kids came home from school. I cried all the time. I couldn't do anything.”

Feeling stagnated, Rexrode took action, as a participant in a related study, she underwent surgery and had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted. The controversial device is rarely covered by insurance, but for those who struggle with treatment resistant depression, vagus nerve stimulation offers an untapped option. For Rexrode, the surgery helped and she is no longer a recluse, but instead is back in the work force.

The issue of stigma in the workplace is very real, and as Mental Health America has demonstrated, for 80% of women with a depression diagnosis, it has been a barrier to career progress. Companies need to realize that investing in mental health care is the same as investing in people like Rexrode, who want to work. We have seen progress, but as the Journal-Constitution piece illustrates, there is still work to be done.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy