Depression in Corporate India

As per ASSOCHAM’s corporate employees’ survey done in 2015, it was revealed that 42.5% of the corporate employees in India are suffering from Depression or General Anxiety disorder. The rate of anxiety and depression has increased by 45–50% among corporate employees in the last eight years. The report is based on assessment from 150 companies across 18 broad sectors like media, telecom and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) etc. Depression was followed by Obesity, High blood pressure (B.P) and Diabetes as the second, third and fourth largest diseases with a share of approx. 30% collectively among the corporate employees. “Corporate employees have to survive the stiff global competitive environment to save their jobs, adding pressure on their health, leading to silent diseases,” said Mr. D S Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM while releasing the survey.

Now on most occasions, corporate depression is NOT about being suicidal or needing medication to operate like a normal person. Although those could be possible symptoms, but mostly depression in corporate world can be characterized by general lethargy towards life and work, waning enjoyment in things that at one time were enjoyable and overall a largely pessimistic feeling that ultimately derives from one’s own lack of interest to live a life they will actually enjoy. The causes of depression at workplace other than biological and genetic are lifestyle factors such as poor sleep habits, excessive caffeine use and stress arising from interpersonal, occupational or financial issues. Increasingly demanding schedules and excess competition are leading to depression or general anxiety disorders in individual lives and have wide ranging effects like daytime fatigue, physical discomfort, psychological stress, performance deterioration, low pain threshold and increased absenteeism. Nearly 38.5% of corporate employees sleep less than 6 hours in a day due to high stressed levels that arise out of tough targets set for themselves by employers and cause diseases like depression, hypertension etc.

Depression is a kind of disease that may be often invisible. One may look perfectly fine and even cheerful on the outside, while on the inside he/she may feel like dying a slow death. It can affect the whole body, including general aches and pains, headaches, inability to sleep or excessive sleep, sad or blank facial expression, and weight loss or gain due to change in appetite. Many people suffering from depression have difficulty concentrating at work, or at home. They may experience a loss of pleasure or interest in activities and hobbies. They may cry, feel worthless or in the more severe cases may even have thoughts of suicide.

Depression in the workplace should not be taken lightly. When this illness strikes any employee, it greatly affects his/her productivity, effectiveness on the job, and relationship with other employees and customers. Often times a depressed employee will not seek treatment because they fear the affect it will have on their job and they are concerned about confidentiality. Many a times, employees are also unaware they have depression. When one person in a work group is depressed, and unable to keep up with their usual pace, the group suffers and morale is negatively affected.

No two people experience clinical depression in the same manner. Symptoms will vary in severity and duration among different people. What can depressed workers and their bosses do? The first step is early identification and treatment, employee assistance programs and de-stigmatizing treatment. Also, certain surveys have shown that highly engaged workers tend to have better emotional health than people who are disengaged. Engaged workers often feel their opinions count, they have a mentor that encourages their development, they get regular recognition and they work in jobs that are aligned with their interest. So just engaging the employee is a very smart way for employers to reduce the chance that the employee will be depressed.

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