Depressed employees worry about job security: Survey

25 per cent of workers with depression report having lost a job in the past

Depression can affect employees' productivity, making them worry they'll be vulnerable to layoffs, according to a new survey by the Mood Disorders Society of Canada and Shepell.fgi.

The survey of 802 Canadians diagnosed with depression found, when experiencing depression symptoms, working respondents identified that they spend an average of two hours per working day on non-work-related activities. In addition, 42 per cent report leaving work early.

More than one-half (55 per cent) of working respondents are worried that such a decrease in their work performance may be misconstrued as a lack of interest in their job, and of these, 73 per cent feel this could make them vulnerable to layoffs in the current economic environment.

In fact, the majority of depressed Canadians surveyed (seven-in-10) have, at some point, experienced a significant disruption in their working career as a result of their depression symptoms, including quitting a job (35 per cent), taking short- or long-term disability leave (33 and 29 per cent, respectively) or losing a job (25 per cent).

"It is especially concerning when the impact of depression is resulting in life changing circumstances like losing your income because of a condition that can be managed," said Paula Allen, vice-president of organizational solutions at Shepell.fgi. "It's imperative that employers identify solutions that can help employees better manage emotional, physical and functional symptoms in the workplace."

An estimated three million Canadians will experience depression in their lifetime, and most will be affected in their working years, between the ages of 24 and 44, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The functional symptoms of depression also go beyond the nine-to-five workday, extending into personal relationships and extra-curricular activities. Eight-in-10 Canadians with depression say they suffer from a reduced ability to enjoy favourite activities and 74 per cent report feelings of isolation or lack of involvement with family and friends.

The survey also polled 150 physicians and found 96 per cent of them recognize depression as one of the top three leading causes of disability.

However, the survey found patients are reluctant to discuss how depression affects their daily lives, with only 38 per cent of patients discussing its effect on their ability to handle family responsibilities, 31 per cent discussing its effect on their ability to function at work and just 28 per cent discussing depression's impact on their personal relationships.

These results are surprising given about 90 per cent of patients are at least somewhat concerned about the functional impact of depression, with 62 per cent being "very concerned."

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