Depressed at Work

June 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Depression costs a lot more than mental well-being. It's costing employers millions of dollars in productivity losses, giving the term "sick day" a whole new meaning."All I could think about was ending my life," Paulette Lane recalls.

For Lane, it was a depression that wouldn't go away.

"I denied it for awhile, and I was ashamed of it," Lane says. "There's such a stigma about that."

Lane struggled to raise her family, work towards her Ph.D. and teach college classes. After decades of unsuccessful treatments, something had to give.

"Because of the depression, I had to stop working," Lane says.

She isn't alone. As many as one in five people in any given workplace experiences symptoms of depression. Look at managers and it's one in three.

"The criteria for major depressive disorder is two weeks or more of a pervasive and persistent change in mood," says Francisco Fernandez, M.D., a psychiatrist at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Fla.

According to a Harvard study, depression costs companies $90 billion each year. Depression is twice as common in working women than men, and among women, high intelligence is a risk factor.

"Given the fact that there's an enormous amount of days lost in work because of so-called metal health days that people have to take, it's better to do a little prevention in the workplace," Dr. Fernandez says.

Experts suggest: set limits for yourself. Make lists and check off finished items. Finish one task before you start another. Break work up into chunks and plan for both your time on and off work.

Lane finally found relief with a vagus nerve stimulator -- a device implanted under the skin near the collarbone.

"I'm able to smile. It's a big step. I'm so happy that I am still here," Lane says.

The vagus nerve stimulator is similar to a pacemaker. A wire connects the device to the vagus nerve in your neck.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
USF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Tampa, FL
(813) 974-8900
USF Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine


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