Corporate Health Programs Reducing Workplace Depression

Corporations can help. Obviously by helping people get treated for depression it is going to enrich the bottom dollar for the organization.

Statistics from the CDC on workplace depression:

  • Depression is the major cause of absenteeism, presenteeism, and productivity impairment in adults.
  • 18.8 million American adults (9.5% of the adult population) will suffer from a depressive illness
  • Approximately 80% of persons with depression reported some level of functional impairment because of their depression, and 27% reported serious difficulties in work and home life
  • In a 3-month period, patients with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and suffer 11.5 days of reduced productivity
  • In 2003, national health expenditures for mental health services were estimated to be over $ 100 million
  • Depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of $ 17 to $ 44 billion

Diagnoses of depression in the workplace is a difficult challenge. By the inclusion of employee engagement / satisfaction surveys into the health and fitness assessment, provides vital clues to the possibility of depression. Assessment in health and fitness programs can be used to gather information, potential clues that a person is displaying signs and symptoms of depression.

By recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression in an assessment such as:


complaints of fatigue

productivity strain

loss of focus

changes in attitude, mood swings

assessing perceived workplace pressures

could easily help in the early identification of depression, enabling a prompt, confidential referral to further diagnostics and treatment services for the employees.

Even if diagnosis is difficult, or the employee is resistant to further diagnostics – by introducing a thorough health and fitness program, we can alleviate the symptoms of depression. At that point, when the person feels less threatened – maybe then the employee can be approached again to seek further assessments and treatments.

Studies have consistently proven that a physical activity, healthy lifestyle program are excellent adjunct therapies in the treatment and prevention of depression.

The first thing to be clearly stated here – it is NOT just about going out and working out faster, stronger, harder. In many cases, that could actually contribute to worsening symptoms of depression. Yes, physical activity and nutrition are from and center to adjunct therapies – as part of an encompassing healthy lifestyle program.

A note about medications:

Antidepressants – there is no question have their place. However, speak to your health care professional about potential side effects:


increased appetite and weight gain

loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm

fatigue and drowsiness


dry mouth

blurred vision






Sounds quite contradictory for the treatment of depression – knowing potential side effects and discussing them with the health care professional is a must. Antidepressants work by manipulating body chemistry.

One of the many magical rewards of fitness is the power to regulate hormones and brain chemistry, which are often altered due to the daily mayhem in our lives.

The Mayo Clinic clearly states that regular exercise, physical activity and the right nutrition can dramatically reduce the symptoms of depression. Psychology Today refers to over 25 studies that tells us:

Sweat = Bliss!

This epidemiological study by the University of Toronto concluded:

Moderate Exercise Could Replace Costly Medications with Side Effects

We have a serious myth though that dictates exercise requires a gym and time we think we don't have – just not true. A properly designed health and fitness program is planned along with the employee balances:

what is right for the employee

what will they actually embrace

What will provide the physiological reward for adherence (not rejection)

the medical needs of the process

adjusting gut health … yes a huge part of dealing with depression, far too often only included in holistic / naturopathic remedies …

Again, corporations have a golden opportunity here:

Physiological and Psychological empowerment of Employees

Be the hero – show management truly cares for employees

Save precious dollars by reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, improving productivity, mood

Reducing healthcare costs

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