Depression causes a drop in productivity at work

According to a recent study, depression causes an 23% drop in productivity at work. The drop is almost 45% for treatment resistant depression, defined in that study as depression that has not responded to 2 adequate trials (i.e. adequate dosage for adequate duration) of antidepressants.

My gut, based on clinical experience, tells me that even when depressed, people devote lot more of their emotional resources to trying to not let work suffer, which in turn tells me that their performance at home suffers much more than at work. For the sake of keeping it simple, let’s assume however, that the performance at home is impaired to the same degree as at work, i.e. about 25%. But how can we know the dollar value of that 25% impairment.

Fortunately for us, economists have long been working on placing a dollar value on activities not related to paid work – including household work (e.g., cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping), caring and helping (e.g., taking care of kids, parents, friends) and personal time and leisure activities. They consider many variables to place different dollar value on the same activity depending on when it is done by a man or woman doing paid work vs a stay-at-home person, and depending on the age of the person. It gets pretty complicated.

For our purposes, to keep it simple, let’s just look at one example from 2006. In this example, the dollar value of the day of “a married American male working full time with youngest child under 18″ was estimated at just under $400/day. This included the value of household services, caring and helping, personal time, leisure activities and paid work. Typically, in similar calculations for women working part time or for women who are full-time housewives, the dollar value of work is lower than for the above man, but that of household services, and caring and helping is greater.

Once again, for the sake of keeping our discussion simple, let’s assume that the dollar value of an entire day for all working age Americans is $400/day or $146,000. If depression causes a 25% impairment in performance across the entire day, that translates into just over $35,000 lost annually. If the depression is treatment resistant, these losses climb to about $70,000 annually.

Bear in mind, that these calculations don’t even try to estimate the dollar value of reputation lost at work due to impaired performance, thus hurting career prospects, or the value of long-term impact of depression on one’s children/spouse/family. These calculations also don’t place a value on the loss of life that can occur when someone with depression ends his or her own life.

So, there we have a rough estimate – the dollar value of the impairment caused by depression suffered by an average working age American is $35,000/year if the depression is not treatment resistant. However, if the depression requires more than 2 adequate trials of antidepressants, the damage jumps to about $70000/year. And remember, in STAR-D – probably the most generalizable study of depression treatment – about 44% of patients needed more than 2 adequate trials of antidepressant medications to achieve remission of depression.

Dheeraj Raina is a psychiatrist who practices at the Depression Clinic of Chicago.

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  • Timo Ahopelto

    Very timely article. Expecially towards the winter months depression rates increase due to seasonal affective disorder – and also non-seasonal, major depression peaking from now until January.

  • Edward Pullen

    No surprises here.  The $ estimates may be exagerated, but depression certainly does reduce productivity in all aspects of life.  The personal expense, relationships etc, may be far more than the percentage for work productivity.  

  • Anonymous

    This Depression Causes Drop in Productivity At Work article is another bogus ad for BIG PHARMA’s useless but lethal SSRI antidepressants and other deadly treatments.  Sadly, psychiatry hijacked the term, “depression,” in that the vast majority of people know why they are depressed either by conflicts in relationships, domestic or work violence like bullying and mobbing, social stressors and injustices, poverty, illness, etc., all NORMAL responses to regular but horrible life events, many caused by the power elite using psychiatry as social control agents to silence, discredit and destroy anyone who sees through them and/or seeks justice.

    SSRI antidepressants have been exposed in tons of studies as not only no better than placebo, but actually causing depression, mania and other very toxic effects as exposed in such books as THE EMPEROR’S NEW DRUGS, YOUR DRUG MAY BE YOUR PROBLEM, LET THEM EAT PROZAC, MANIA, PROZAC BACKLASH, PHYSICIAN’S DESK REFERENCE, etc. 

    These lethal drugs causing tons of deadly symptoms including suicide and violence that psychiatry in bed with BIG PHARMA had done all in its great power to hide and cover up while promoting the big evil lie that these drugs save depressed people from suicide and heaven forbid, the loss of profits to the plutocracy per above article. 

    This article is totally bogus and evil in that the author is just selling psychiatry’s fraud that UNTREATED DEPRESSION results in such huge loss for society when in reality, so called depression treated by the mental death profession with  SSRI’s causing mania, insomnia, suicide and violence and other toxic iatrogenic effects is the real danger to society. These effects are then used to fuel the latest fraud fad stigma with its bogus DSM “bible” by psychiatry of bipolar disorder with its even more lethal cocktail of psych drugs including atypical antipsychotics and so called mood stabilizers like Depakote these fiends have pushed on toddler and babies no less.  See exposure of BIG PHARMA paid Harvard shill, “Dr.” Joseph Biederman, the fiend mainly responsible for the latter fraud promising positive “studies” for these lethal drugs in advance for BIG PHARMA to destroy innocent children. Dr. David Healy exposes how the little known manic depressive illness was changed to a huge fraudulent epidemic of biolar disorder due to the invention of lethal Depakote and atypical antipsychotics that have earned billions for this evil duo of psychiatry in bed with BIG PHARMA based on total FRAUD AND LIES like all of psychiatry.

    As the books, ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC, MEDICATION MADNESS, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES, ADHD FRAUD, MANIA, THE MYTH OF THE CHEMICAL CURE and many others expose, psychiatry is a menace and plague on the world and the truth is that one has a far better chance of survival and recovery from social distress the mental death profession stigmatizes and medicalizes in the guise of help for social control in third world countries not invaded by BIG PHARMA and its bedfellows in psychiatry.  So, to pretend that the lack of so called treatment from the mental death profession is any loss is only accurate in terms of the loss of huge profits to greedy psychiatrists in bed with BIG PHARMA to destroy as many lives as they can while profiting from the misery they inflict since they are obviously psychopathic malignant narcissists and “PEOPLE OF THE LIE” per Dr. M. Scott Peck.  The whole article above is one big lie since nobody in the mental death profession can pretend any more that their lethal drugs are anything but useless and deadly.  Many recent studies have proven this and even the US military has admitted such treatments are uselss and they will be forced to pursue others. Electoshock is another barbarity of psychiatry used for depression while destroying one’s brain and memory. These fiends tricked the famous American author, Ernest Hemingway, into such ECT and when he realized his brain was fried and he had no memory or capacity to write, he killed himself. Many have killed themselves after being subjected to evil psychiatry and its toxic drugs, the fiend then pretend is part of the victim’s “mental illness,” a vile term only a psychopath could invent. If anything, “mental INJURIES” would be more accurate with the greatest injuries inflicted by the mental death profession to the horror and shock of their many victims.

    The so called treatment resistant depression means abused, traumatized people or others suffering from evil people like the majority of psychiatrists or other life stressors certainly won’t get better by being invalidated, blamed, attacked, stigmatized and gas lighted to pretend the victims’ problems are delusional, paranoid and otherwise crazy to aid and abet their fellow abusers in power while prescribing toxic drugs. Yes, I realize it is horrifying to learn this truth after going to somebody you thought was a real doctor having compassion and empathy following the Hipocratic oath only to find a hypocrit wolf exposed once the drop their mask of sanity and sheep’s clothing. It’s quite a shock to find you have just been conned by an evil psychopath or proto psychopath going along for the ride to for obscene profits, power, greed and sadism, their main goals in life.

    CAVEAT EMPTOR.  What a self serving bogus article. So much for informed consent too!

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