Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 12:25 EDT

One in 10 Employees in Europe Have Missed Work Due to Depression – More Than 21,000 Working Days Lost, According to New Survey

September 30, 2012

BRUSSELS, October 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

        - Depression causes an average of 36 lost working days per episode
        - Managers report need for better legislation, including training and
          counselling to tackle the problem

One in 10 working people surveyed in Europe have taken time off work because of
depression, with an average of 36 days lost per episode of depression, according to a new
survey from the European Depression Association. This equates to more than 21,000 days of
lost working time in this group of people. However despite the size of the problem, nearly
one in three managers reported they had no formal support or resources to deal with
employees who have depression, and 43% called for better policies and legislation to
protect employees.

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Commenting on the results, MEP Stephen Hughes said, “Depression in the workplace is an
employment and societal challenge that is causing serious damage and which requires
attention and action from the European Union. The inclusion of depression in the workplace
in the new European Commission Strategy for Health and Safety at Work, backed up in the
coming two years with legislative action, would represent excellent progress towards
protecting Europe’s workers more effectively and ultimately contributing to economic and
social prosperity.”

Depression is the predominant mental health challenge among working-age people and
more than 30 million European citizens will suffer from depression at some point in their
life.[1] The IDEA survey (Impact of Depression in the Workplace in Europe Audit) polled
more than 7,000 people in Europe and found that 20% of respondents had received a
diagnosis of depression at some point. The highest rate was in GB (26%) and the lowest in
Italy (12%). Among workers experiencing depression, those in Germany (61%), Denmark (60%),
and GB (58%) were most likely to take time off work, while those in Turkey were the least
likely to take time off (25%).

The costs of depression were estimated at EUR92 billion in 2010 in the EU, with lost
productivity due to absenteeism (taking time off work) and presenteeism (being present at
work while ill) representing over 50% of all costs related to depression.[1] In the IDEA
survey the average number of days taken off work during the last episode of depression was
36 days, with Germany and GB having the highest (41 days) and Italy (23 days) having the

Despite the high rates of absenteeism due to depression, one in four of those
experiencing depression stated they did not tell their employer about their problem. Of
these, one in three said they felt it would put their job at risk in the current economic

The cognitive symptoms of depression (concentration difficulties, indecisiveness,
and/or forgetfulness) cause significant impairment in work function and productivity,[2]
and are present 94% of the time in an episode of depression.[3] However, the survey shows
that awareness of these symptoms is poor: when asked to identify signs of depression only
33% said forgetfulness, 44% indecisiveness and 57% trouble concentrating. In contrast 88%
identified low mood or sadness as a sign of depression.

Among the managers surveyed, approximately one in three reported there was no formal
support in place to help them deal with depression in employees. The lack of support was
highest in Germany (44%) and lowest in Turkey (10%). Managers in GB (55%) were most likely
to have support from their HR department, while managers in Turkey were most likely to
receive support from a medical professional (79%).

When asked what is needed to support employees with depression in the workplace,
managers most often cited more counselling services and better government legislation and
policies. In Turkey managers were most likely to call for better legislation (55%) and
training for all employees (63%). Managers in GB and Turkey wanted better counselling
services (56% and 53%), while German managers prioritised line manager training (53%).

Dr Vincenzo Costigliola, President of the European Depression Association said “The
results of the IDEA survey show that much needs to be done in raising awareness and
supporting employees and employers in recognising and managing depression in the
workplace. We ask policymakers to consider the impact of depression on the workforce and
charge them with addressing depression and workers and workplace safety.”

Full results of the IDEA survey will be published in 2013.

Notes for Editors

The European Depression Association (EDA)

EDA is an alliance of organisations, patients, researchers and healthcare
professionals from 17 countries across Europe. Each year on October 1, EDA organises
European Depression Day to raise awareness of depression across Europe. The theme of this
year’s campaign is ‘Depression and the Workplace’. On October 1, a group of policy experts
and stakeholders will meet in Brussels to continue discussions on how best to address the
burden and impact of depression in the workplace in Europe. This meeting follows the
Expert Roundtable on Depression in the Workplace held on 5 June 2012 by MEP Stephen
Hughes. The overall aim of the meeting is to secure binding EU legislation on depression
in the workplace.

The EDA is sponsored by the European Medical Association, International Scientific
Association, Centro Lombardo Recuperi Industriali, L.A. Nuova Stampa and H. Lundbeck A/S.



@The_EDA: #EUdepressionday

About the IDEA (Impact of Depression in the Workplace in Europe Audit) Survey

The research was conducted using Ipsos MORI’s online panel, between 30 August and 19
September 2012. Questions were asked online of 7,065 adults aged 16-64 who are workers and
managers, or have worked and managed within the last 12 months, across Europe. Results are
weighted to ensure the sample was representative of this profile. Full data tables are
available upon request. The survey was supported by an educational grant from H. Lundbeck


1. Olesen J, Gustavsson A, Svensson M, et al. The economic cost of brain disorders in
Europe. Eur J Neurol 2012; 19:155-162

2. Greer TL, Kurian BT, Trivedi MH. Defining and measuring functional recovery from
depression. CNS Drugs. 2010; 24(4):267-284

3. Conradi HJ, Ormel J, de Jonge P. Presence of individual (residual) symptoms during
depressive episodes and periods of remission: a 3-year prospective study. Psychol Med.
2011; 41:1165-1174



SOURCE European Depression Association (EDA)

Source: PR Newswire