Depression is the second leading cause of sick leave, permanent disability or early retirement in Spain
Depression is the second leading cause of incapacity for work behind musculoskeletal disorders. The cost of depression in Spain is estimated between 150 and 370 million euros per year, including the costs related to sickness or disability, reduced productivity and early retirement.
Greater sensitivity on the part of companies, increased flexibility and the promotion of the relationship between medical and care services would help improve the prevention of depression in the workplace, as well as facilitate early detection which improves diagnosis and facilitates treatment and recovery.
This is one of the key findings of the online dialogue on active listening “Can Business Help Prevent Depression?” The Challenges of Depression at Work ”organized as part of the Rethink Depression initiative promoted by Lundbeck, with the aim of giving visibility to depression in the workplace and to propose strategies to help companies prevent this disease .
The meeting brought together Dr Rosa Gutirrez Labrador, head of the psychiatric section of the SSM de Alcobendas at the Infanta Sofa University Hospital in Madrid; Dr Francisco Forns beda, head of the occupational health and occupational risk prevention service at the City of Valencia; and actor and presenter Javier Martn, who suffered from depression for years, and was moderated by Dr Susana Gmez-Lus, Lundbeck Market Access and Medical Director. The Online Active Listening Dialogues are part of the third edition of the campaign “#DeLaDepresinSeSale”, which in this edition has the support of the Spanish Psychiatric Society (SEP) and the collaboration of the Association La Barandilla.
“People who work in the service sector are the most likely to suffer from this type of disorder, especially those with the highest level of qualification, with more responsibilities and with jobs that involve greater emotional involvement” , explains Dr. Francisco Forns.
The specialists brought together by Lundbeck underline the need to promote a work environment conducive to talking about depression to detect the warning signs that allow an early diagnosis, and thus reduce the high costs induced by a drop in productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism and use of health resources.
“It is also a question of moving from the prevention of psychosocial risks to the promotion of mental health in the company, which includes aspects such as the promotion of a healthy diet, the reinforcement of the regular practice of the exercise. physical, as well as building worker resilience with training in emotion management, stress management, communication, social skills and self-leadership. Ultimately, the prevention of depression in the company must start with the workers, with a holistic approach centered on the physical, social, emotional and work aspects ”, explains Dr. Gutirrez Labrador.
In addition, they point out that the taboo that still exists on this disease, the trivialization of the term depression or the associated stigma and prejudices, lead many workers who suffer from it not to recognize it for fear of losing their job or of being stigmatized by their companions. For this reason, experts insist on the need to disseminate and raise awareness about depression, as well as to develop truly effective prevention and early detection programs.
“There was a moment of illness when they had to push me to go on stage. In my industry – the art industry – they understood my situation well, but I was always afraid that they would not hire me. I was lucky that they gave small roles, because I was not able to take on other more relevant roles. In my case, the work was therapeutic because it helped me disconnect, ”says actor Javier Martn.
“The greater the social awareness of depression, the greater the empathy for those who suffer from it and, therefore, the easier it will be for them to talk about their illness and seek help. This is why we insist on the need for dissemination and active prevention, ”concludes Dr Gutirrez Labrador. A correct approach to depression on the part of the company will have repercussions not only on the emotional well-being of the workers but also on the productivity of the companies and the sustainability of the national health system.
For Susana Gmez-Lus, Director of Market Access and Medicine at Lundbeck, “if we spend a high percentage of our life at work, this environment must make a vital contribution to the prevention of mental illnesses, such as depression. . De Lundbeck, As specialists in mental illnesses, we continue to work every day to improve knowledge of depression in all areas and of course at work. Visibility and information are one of the keys to preventing depression. “
The cognitive symptoms approach, the key to avoiding presenteeism at work
“Stress is often one of the main causes of depression in the workplace,” says Dr Forns. “Depression involves a whole affect, not just a state of mind,” adds Dr. Gutirrez Labrador. Insecurity, apathy, difficulty in organizing and performing tasks, isolation and problems working in a team, decreased concentration, memory loss or decreased mental agility are some- some of the symptoms that can alert at work to the existence of a possible depressive picture.
It is estimated that 80% of productivity loss due to depression can be attributed to insufficient ability to perform tasks ii. According to Dr. Gutirrez Labrador, “cognitive symptoms such as lack of concentration, early mental fatigue, difficulty in properly assessing issues and making decisions, lack of motivation, difficulty in maintaining social relationships and isolation seriously condition that the worker performs his tasks normally ”.
Many times the depressed person stays at work despite the presence of these symptoms. This is called presenteeism in the workplace and is one of the biggest problems for companies. Hence the need to detect them early and to treat them correctly with an appropriate treatment that allows the remission of symptoms and the return to work.
The uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic
The uncertainty generated by the current pandemic is generating greater job instability, which can lead to an increase in mental illnesses in the workplace. “The instability of work generates anxiety, anxiety is the prelude to depression,” warns Dr. Forns. So, as Dr Gutirrez Labrador asks, it is necessary to implement general measures to “reduce collective stress at this time and improve the management of the pandemic as individuals and as a society”.
Another problem generated in recent months has been the hyperconnection of workers, due to a greater introduction of teleworking, which has led to a lack of clear disconnection on several occasions. Experts stress the need to regulate teleworking with measures such as establishing favorable environmental conditions and a timetable to facilitate digital disconnection.