Lead author Alan Langlieb, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine psychiatry, examined more than 100 published studies exploring how mental illness affects the workplace. After reviewing and analyzing the literature it shows that one in every 20 Americans will be depressed in a given year.

"Anxiety and depressive disorders, which often go hand in hand, create tremendous social and economic burdens on our society. They can be as debilitating as any major chronic illness," Langlieb said. In 2020 major depression will be the second leading cause of disability.

The study further shows that anxiety and/or depression complicate other medical conditions and seem to have a ripple effect in the work setting, creating low morale among coworkers and a higher turnover rate. Langlieb cited a 1998 study of more than 46,000 employees which estimated that each employee with depression generated $3,189 in annual health care costs compared with $1,679 annually for non-mental health illnesses. If depressed employees also were under high stress, the cost skyrocketed: 147 percent more was spent on health care for these individuals than on those with depression alone.

It is estimated that in 2000, the US spent $83.1 billion for costs associated with depression and $63.1 billion in 1998 for costs associated with anxiety disorders. Duch costs include not only direct health care costs, but also "indirect" costs stemming from suicide, increased medical morbidity, reduced adherence to outpatient treatment leading to relapse and hospitalization, lost wages caused by missed work, and decreased workplace productivity.

Langlieb said the best way to combat these costs is to guarantee that employees have access to quality, specialized psychiatric evaluations. Quality treatment might be more expensive in the short term, but the long-term benefits clearly outweigh the initial treatment costs.

MEDICA.de; Source: Johns Hopkis Medical Institutions