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Productivity losses among depressed workers

A recent study in the February issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concludes that even when depressed patients are treated with antidepressants, there are substantial productivity losses. Researchers examined insurance claims and employee health and productivity databases to determine the effect of antidepressant treatment on employer costs, and found workers with depression miss more days of work and are more likely to use short-term disability than those in a matched control group without depression. After controlling for demographic and employment characteristics, treated patients with depression had short-term disability costs that were $356 higher per patient and those with severe depression had costs that were $861 higher. The marginal impact of treated depression on absenteeism was $377.

According to the study, even while receiving treatment, costs associated with depressed workers remained significantly higher than costs for workers with other ailments, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.