Bipolar Disorder, Like Depression, Proves Costly in the Workplace
> 9/12/2006 1:53:51 PM

By digging into data obtained as part of the NIMH's National Comorbidity Survey Replication Study (NCS-R) researchers have been able to put a monetary value on the amount of work lost by those suffering from bipolar disorder. They were also able to update information regarding the costs of depression in the workplace, something that has been understood for quite some time, but is infrequently measured.

According to the numbers from the NCS-R, the group found that:

Twelve-month prevalence estimates of DSM-IV bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder among employed NCS-R respondents were 1.1% and 6.4%, respectively. The estimated prevalence of bipolar disorder did not differ significantly by the respondentsí sex, age, race/ethnicity, occupation, or expected work hours but was inversely related to education. The estimated prevalence of major depressive disorder did not differ significantly by respondent race/ethnicity, education, occupation, or expected work hours but was significantly higher among women than men and inversely related to age.

As can be seen in the table below, bipolar disorder, while less common by more than a factor of five, accounts for nearly three times as much work missed on an individual level and more than twice as many dollars lost. By way of explanation, presenteeism refers to the practice of showing up at work despite an ailment and performing below expectations.

What is clear from this research is that bipolar disorder, perhaps not as troublesome as depression when considered on an aggregate level, accounts for a catastrophic amount of work lost on an individual level. As the researchers suggest, it would be beneficial to many corporations, unions and government agencies to run basic scanning for mental health issues that includes bipolar disorder along with more standard depression screening.

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