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Could depression be affecting your job?

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Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2014 4:00 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Mon Feb 3, 2014.

(BPT) - Did you know that one in 10 people struggle with depression? Depression can consist of a range of symptoms and it can also impact every aspect of a person’s life including social, family, personal and work/school life. Depression affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act, and affects people during their prime working years.

One area people tend to ignore is the impact depression can have on their work life. Depression is evident at work through absenteeism (days away from work), and presenteeism (being at work, but not engaged/productive). Workers with depression report an extra 1.6 days absent from work each month compared to healthy colleagues.

To help combat the significant impact of depression on individuals and to acknowledge the critical role employers must play - both for themselves and their employees, we have created Right Direction. Right Direction is a first-of-its-kind initiative to raise awareness about depression in the workplace, promote early recognition of symptoms, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is a program of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation, and Employers Health, a national employer coalition based in Ohio.

“Individuals with depression sometimes aren’t aware they have the illness,” says Clare Miller, director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health. “We spend a lot of time at work, so it’s an important place to share information on depression and to encourage people to access resources and tools that can help to get them healthy.”

Despite advances in treatments, only one-third of people with diagnosable mental health conditions seek care. Many people who struggle with depression may go untreated because they fear retribution or loss of their job if they report their problems. Depression has a variety of symptoms, but the most common are a deep feeling of sadness or a marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities. Other symptoms include:

* Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains unrelated to dieting

* Insomnia or oversleeping

* Loss of energy or increased fatigue

* Restlessness or irritability

* Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt

* Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions

* Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide

Depression does not have to throw your work life or your career off track. If you are concerned that depression is impacting your performance at work and feel like you have experienced any of these signs, it is important to seek help because depression is treatable. In fact, more than 80 percent of those who seek treatment show improvement. The most commonly used treatments are antidepressant medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two.

“People should not have to suffer in silence or be afraid to reach out for help,” says Marcas Miles, director of Programs and Communications at Employers Health. “Right Direction offers resources for people in the workforce who are living with depression to get the help they need to get back on track.”

For more information, visit www.RightDirectionForMe.com. The website offers educational information on common symptoms of depression, a screening tool for depression that can be shared with a health provider, resources for how to discuss this with family and additional resources outside the workplace to access for help.

Support for this educational initiative is provided jointly by Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc., and Lundbeck US, two pharmaceutical companies located in Deerfield, Ill., that are committed to developing therapies and programs to help people living with mental health conditions.

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