Speaking about depression as an illness was taboo for many years. Only recently, has it become more common to openly discuss mental health issues. Although depression is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of work-related injuries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists depression as a leading cause of both injury and illness for men and women worldwide.
Depression in the Workforce
According to the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, between 2009 and 2012, 7.6 percent of Americans aged 13 and older suffered from depression. Of those with severe depressive symptoms, 43 percent described having serious difficulties at work, home, and socially. The economic cost of these effects in 2010 was $210.5 billion.
Someone who experiences a work-related injury can be affected in many ways. In addition to having a limited capacity at work, income may also be reduced as a result. Home life may be disrupted and it may not be possible to enjoy hobbies in the same way as before the injury, especially if they involved physical activity. A worker in this situation can be vulnerable to depression. Many injuries result in chronic pain, which puts the worker at further risk of depression.
An injured worker that develops depression will likely take longer to recover, adding to the cost of the initial injury. If the worker is able to return to work, but is still depressed, their productivity may be affected. Reduced productivity can affect the ability of co-workers to do their jobs at normal capacity. Depression is also a risk factor for smoking and low back pain, which can further erode the health of an injured worker.
Unfortunately, depression that develops as a result of an injury is often denied by Workers’ Compensation insurance companies and employers meaning that workers may not receive needed therapy or medication to treat it, further drawing out recovery time. Depression can be covered if it can be shown that it results from the on-the-job injury and resulting circumstances.
Recognizing and Preventing Depression in the Workplace
Employers can train supervisors to recognize the signs of depression so that they can intervene if they sense that an employee returning to work after an injury is falling into depression. The most obvious warning signs include:
- Struggling with punctuality
- Changes in grooming habits or appearance
- Sad or listless appearance
- Decrease in productivity
Additionally, employers can provide workplace education sessions with therapists and health professionals to talk about depression. Discussing mental health issues openly can help alleviate fears that workers may have. Ideally, workers suffering from depression should have access to therapy or counseling at work to prevent the recovery from work-related injuries from being unnecessarily extended.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for the Rights of Injured Workers
If you have suffered from a workplace injury, you may be eligible for compensation. Consult with an experienced Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyer from Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. about your Workers’ Compensation benefits. We have years of combined experience handling Workers’ Compensation cases and will fight to make sure you receive the compensation you are due so that you can recover from your injuries. Call us today at 866-881-8623 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at one of our six convenient locations. We serve clients in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, as well as the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg.