Depression can pose a cruel catch-22 to sufferers: It can interfere with productivity, which can exacerbate the symptoms of feeling worthless and guilty that many people with depression experience.
Much ink has been spilled by researchers concerning the impact of employee depression on employers. In the 2011 study found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, for example, researchers administered a 9-question depression questionnaire and another questionnaire that measured work productivity to 771 employed participants. They found that there was an average 1.65% increase in lost productivity for every 1-point increase (on a 27-point scale) in depression score. Those with only mild depression scores exhibited a 29.6% loss of productivity during the prior week, compared to 8% loss by controls with no depression. In another study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, major depressive disorder resulted in 27 lost work days in a year for employers per employee with depression, and two-thirds of those days were lost to unproductivity while present at work.
Let’s consider this from the perspective not of the employer, but the employee. While a depressed individual likely isn’t tallying up the precise amount of time he or she has been unproductive, the effects are easily felt. Those with depression may not know why they felt worthless or guilty to begin with – it could result from a chemical imbalance as the current medical thinking goes; it could also result from past experiences or from current life situations. We can be fairly certain, though, that decreased productivity can exacerbate these symptoms of depression and help to perpetuate the condition.
While it’s typical to spend much of one’s waking time at work, we should also consider productivity more broadly. A person’s ability to perform meaningful activities outside of work and to maintain healthy social relationships is also hindered by depression. So, while performing a job that you care about well is certainly an important concern, this broader notion of lost productivity brings a more well-rounded view of the impacts depression can have on life overall. By limiting a person’s overall capacity for productivity, depression can be a self-perpetuating cycle.
Breaking the Cycle
There are approaches you can take along with or instead of medication to manage depression. There is no one solution that works for everyone; you increase your chances by diversifying your arsenal of approaches. The following forms of therapy may be used to manage depression:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: a short-course therapy in which patients learn to identify negative, counterproductive and automatic thought patterns and replace them with healthier, more constructive thoughts
- Interpersonal therapy: focuses on addressing social problems that arise in relation to depression
- Existential Psychotherapy: a form of therapy that focuses on problems around meaning, purpose, mortality and other aspects of the human condition
- Exercise: may help manage depression by increasing endorphin release, and is also just good for you all around
Decreased productivity in and out of work can lead to a less fulfilling life. Use all the tools at your disposal to manage depression.