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Depression and Lost Productivity

Between 2 to 4% of workers in the US suffer from depression, and up to 50% of workers with depression experience short-term disability.a
Financial costs of depression to employers in the United States:

  • The total economic burden of depression in 2000 was $83 billion,b and the majority of this cost (62% or $52 billion) was due to lost workplace productivity.
  • Depression costs employers over $44 billion annually in lost productivity, 81% due to poorer on-the-job performance. c
  • Every year, employers lose 27 work days per worker with depression, two-thirds of which is due to “presenteeism” (workers are present but less productive).d
  • The cost of depression to employers in lost work days is as great or greater than the cost of many other common medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, or back problems.e

Schematic model of the factors contributing to anxiety and depression and the impact of these conditions on work.

Haslam flowchart

Haslam, C., Atkinson, S., Brown, S. and Haslam, R. 2005. Anxiety and depression in the workplace: effects on the individual and organisation (a focus group investigation). Journal of Affective Disorders, 88: 209-215.) - Download

Addressing depression in the workplace has financial returns:

  • from depression is associated with significant reductions in work disability costs. f
  • There is the potential for a long-term positive financial return in terms of recovered hiring, training, and salary costs. g

A systematic program to identify depression and promote effective treatment significantly improves not only clinical outcomes but also workplace outcomes.

Average direct and indirect annual cost

Kessler et al. Prevalence and effects of mood disorders on work performance in a nationally representative sample of US workers. Am J Psychiatry 2. 6; 163:1561-1568.


a. Depression in the workplace: costs and barriers to treatment. Psychiatric Services. Dec 2001;52:1639-43.
b. The economic burden of depression in the United States: how did it change between 1990 and 2000? Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Dec 2003;64:1465-75.
c. Cost of lost productive work time among US workers with depression. JAMA. 2003;289:3135-44.
d. Prevalence and effects of mood disorders on work performance in a nationally representative sample of U.S. workers. American Journal of Psychiatry. Sep 2006;163:1561-68.
e. Health & disability costs of depressive illness in a major U.S. corporation. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2000;157:1274-78. f. Recovery from depression, work productivity, and health care costs among primary care patients. General Hospital Psychiatry. 2000;22:153-62.
g. Telephone screening, outreach, and care management for depressed workers and impact on clinical and work productivity outcomes. JAMA. 2007;298:1401-11.