Researchers looked at 771 currently employed participants - most of whom were moderately depressed based on diagnostic standards. They responded to survey questions about their depression and work over a week's time. On average, participants reported losing three hours of work time to health-related conditions associated with depression.
Productivity loss was determined by multiplying the hours actually worked by an individual's percent impairment at work. As the severity of depression increased across participants, so did productivity loss.
So what do the findings mean for the nine-to-five crowd?
First off, the research highlights the need for greater flexibility for people working full-time. In most cases, individuals living with depression were forced to use sick days to leave work for their symptoms, even if they needed to leave just a few hours per week.
Employers can cut lost productivity by adding "evidence-based depression management programs" to their work environments, the authors write.