Experts urge treatment, openness to help workers with depression

Experts urge treatment, openness to help workers with depression

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"I think anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues that individuals have," Doug Wenrich, a trained employee assistance professional (EAP), said. "I think anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues that individuals have," Doug Wenrich, a trained employee assistance professional (EAP), said.
"An employee who is ill, may not be productive, and hence affect the bottom line," said Ben Harrington with the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee. "An employee who is ill, may not be productive, and hence affect the bottom line," said Ben Harrington with the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - In America today, depression ranks among the top three workplace problems, following only family crisis and stress.

However, depression is an illness that requires treatment. Today, more and more companies are offering care for the illness.

Many people think that depression is due to "personal weakness," or is otherwise not a "real" health condition.

But in the workplace today, depression is becoming one of this country's most costly illnesses.

Often times a depressed employee will not seek treatment because they fear the affect it will have on their job.

But left untreated, depression leads to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity for various reasons.  

In Knoxville, Doug Wenrich is a trained employee assistance professional (EAP). His experience is in marriage and family therapy.

As an EAP specialist, he works with businesses to improve both personal and workplace productivity.

He says depression ranks among the top three workplace problems for employee assistance professionals, following only family crisis and stress.

"I think anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues that individuals have," Wenrich said.

He says no two people experience clinical depression in the same manner, and symptoms will vary in severity and duration among different people.

A persistently sad or empty mood is one symptom, another is difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Also, there is withdrawal and irritability.       

"Maybe not going to lunch with their coworkers as much as they used to. Since irritability goes with anxiety and depression, they may have inappropriate anger outbursts," he said.

If they are aware of the symptoms, employers who offer care will refer their workers for help.

"A healthy employee is able to be productive in the workplace and a company is going to reap the reward of their productivity. They're going to be able to serve their customers. An employee who is ill, may not be productive, and hence affect the bottom line," said Ben Harrington with the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee.

Employers are increasingly aware that promoting employee mental health is good for business.

If you decide to tell your boss about your depression, the good news is that it will likely be easier than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

While there is apprehension about what others may say, you have to remember that depression is a medical condition and it can be treated.

"What I hear from individuals is that's the hardest part of seeking help is picking up the phone and saying, 'I need some help,'" Wenrich said.

The experts say 80% of people with clinical depression can be successfully treated.

The Mental Health Association of East Tennessee can assist in finding treatment, if you don't have an employee assistance program where you work. Visit their website to find out more.

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