Cost of depression extends to workplace at a price of $23 billion

The economic toll of depression is the focus of new findings released late last week from Gallup. The research group has found that U.S. workers who have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives miss about 68 million more days of work each year than their non-depressed co-workers. The cost of lost productivity to employers: $23 billion.

The figures are based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which surveyed more than 300,000 full-time and part-time employees between Jan. 2, 2011 through Dec. 30, 2012.

After controlling for age, gender, income, education, race/ethnicity, region, marital status and obesity, the data show:

  • Nearly 11 percent of the U.S. full-time workforce has been diagnosed with depression; this group missed an average of 8.7 days per year due to poor health
  • Nearly 17 percent of part-time workers reported a diagnosis of depression; this group missed an average of 13.7 days a year.

“Mental health is an issue that’s very real and very significant inside of U.S. workplaces,” Dan Witters, the research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, told the The Wall Street Journal. He has advocated for initiatives to improve the mental health of employees, including resources for early identification and treatment, bolstering employee assistance programs and education in the workplace about depression and its causes.