Undiagnosed mental distress in the workplace

Researchers from the University at Albany SUNY have found that mental distress symptoms not clinically diagnosed can impact productivity, absenteeism and other work-related outcomes, reports PsychCentral.

Using data from three national databases, the researchers considered the relationship between mental health disorders (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) and work. They focused in particular on symptoms related to major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and panic attacks.

Their findings included:

  • Major depression symptoms that impacted work-related outcomes included insomnia, sleeping too much, indecisiveness and severe emotional distress
  • Depression symptoms had a greater impact on workforce participation than anxiety.
  • Symptoms of panic attacks and social phobia did not significantly affect work outcomes

Their analyses also found that while many did not meet diagnostic criteria for depression or anxiety, their symptoms contributed to poor mental health comparable to those diagnosed. Consequently, the authors recommend workplace interventions that also consider those with subclinical mental health symptoms.

The study, “Identifying the Mechanisms for Workplace Burden of Psychiatric Illness,” was published in the February issue of the journal Medical Care.