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Common Mental Illnesses Affecting Workers Today

Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss

Published: 2012-10-15

Synopsis and Key Points:

Research in regards to psychiatric epidemiology has demonstrated that mental health disorders are common in America.

Main Digest

Workers in America are people from the general population of working age. Research in regards to psychiatric epidemiology has demonstrated that mental health disorders are common in America. Mental health disorders affect tens of millions of Americans every single year. Unfortunately, only a mere fraction of the people in America who are affected by a form of mental health disorder ever receive treatment.

One of the common mental health disorders affecting nearly 40 million American adults includes anxiety disorders. The group of disorders affects approximately 18% of adults in America over the age of 18 each year. The result is feelings of fear and uncertainty among those affected.

Anxiety disorders, unlike the fairly mild and brief anxiety that may be caused by stressful events such as a first date or speaking in public, may last at least 6 months and worsen if treatment is not received. Anxiety disorders often times happen in conjunction with other forms of mental health or physical forms of illnesses, to include substance or alcohol misuse, which have the potential to hide the symptoms of anxiety a person is experiencing or worsen them. In some instances, the other illnesses a person experiences must be treated before they will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder they have. Anxiety disorders can include:

Effective types of therapies and treatments are available for anxiety disorders. Research into anxiety disorders is finding new types of treatments that can assist the majority of people to lead lives that are fulfilling and productive. The anxiety disorder a person experiences is as unique as each individual and presents different symptoms, yet all of the symptoms focus around excessive and irrational fear and dread.

People who believe they are experiencing a form of anxiety disorder should seek assistance from a mental health care provider as soon as possible. A mental health care provider can help to suggest ways to treat anxiety and make the treatment more effective. Regaining an anxiety-free life is a very real possibility with appropriate treatment.

Workers and Depression

Clinical depression is now one of America's most costly forms of illness. Untreated depression costs as much as AIDS or heart disease to the American economy. The costs related to lost productivity and absenteeism in the workplace are over $51 billion, with costs of $26 billion related to the direct treatment of clinical depression. Many times, depression affects people who are in the prime working years and it has the potential to last a lifetime if it remains untreated. Greater than 80% of people who experience clinical depression; however, can be treated quite successfully. The keys to successful treatment of clinical depression include early recognition, intervention, and support. With these things most workers can heal and continue where they left off.

Depression is among the top 3 workplace issues for employee assistance professionals, followed only by family crisis and stress issues. One study of First Chicago Corporations found that depressive disorders were responsible for greater than 50% of the entire medical plan dollars paid out for mental health issues. The amount for treatment of the claims was close to the amount spent on the treatment for heart disease. Nearly 15% of people who suffer from severe depression will die by suicide.

Many times, an employee with depression will avoid seeking treatment because they are afraid it will affect their job. The employee may have concerns about confidentiality, or be unaware of the depression they are experiencing, or be afraid their insurance coverage is inadequate to cover treatment costs. Most employers will refer an employee with depression to the assistance they need, if they are aware of the symptoms their employee is experiencing. Around 64% of employers in one survey stated they would refer an employee with depression to a mental health care professional.

Awareness of the symptoms of clinical depression is important. No two people experience clinical depression in the same way. The symptoms a person experiences vary in both the severity and duration. It is important to pursue mental health treatment if you experience five or more of the following symptoms for more than a two week period of time:

If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms over more than two weeks of time, a visit to your doctor or a mental health professional is certainly appropriate and needed. A first step may involve a complete physical examination in order to rule out other forms of illnesses.

Eating Disorders and Workers

In America, fast foods are readily-available on nearly every street corner. It is altogether too easy to run out of the office or workplace and grab a burger and fries or chicken dinner, and return to work. It is also very easy to avoid eating at all for many workers in America.

An eating disorder is a form of illness that causes serious disturbances to a person's everyday diet, such as severe overeating or consuming extremely small portions of food. Someone who experiences an eating disorder might have begun by simply eating larger or smaller portions of food, although at some point their urge to eat more or less got out of their control. A person with an eating disorder can experience severe distress or concern about their weight or body shape; things that might also characterize an eating disorder.

Eating disorders commonly appear when a person is in their teen years, or during young adulthood, although an eating disorder can also occur while a person is still a child or later in their life. More common forms of eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders affect women and men.

Medical science does not know how many adults and children experience other serious and significant forms of eating disorders, to include a category of eating disorders referred to as, 'Eating Disorders Otherwise Not Specified (EDNOS).' EDNOS includes eating disorders that do not meet the criteria for either bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. Binge-eating disorder is a form of eating disorder included in EDNOS. Among people who pursue treatment for eating disorders, EDNOS is the most common diagnosis.

Eating disorders are very real and treatable forms of medical illnesses. They often times co-exist with other forms of illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, or substance misuse. Additional symptoms related to eating disorders may become life-threatening if a person does not receive the treatment they need. People with anorexia nervosa; for example, are 18 times more likely to die early when compared with people of a similar age among the general population.

Citations and References:

Help Guide - Understanding Depression

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won't go away, it may be depression.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a mood disorder that is characterized by multiple and/or nonspecific worries that interfere with the person's life in some way.

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders.

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