Targeting depression symptoms may help people get back to work

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Symptoms like insomnia and emotional distress account for much of the work of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Many people who don’t have a formal psychiatric diagnosis still have mental health symptoms that interfere with work. “From a policy perspective, interventions targeting workplace consequences of mental illness may benefit not only those who meet diagnostic criteria for mental illness, but also many of those with subclinical levels of symptoms,” said, Kajal Lahiri, PhD, Pinka Chatterji, PdD, and graduate student Souvik Banerjee of University at Albany, SUNY in their research paper.

Focusing on symptoms and how they affect work

Using three databases, the team looked the relationship between mental health symptoms and work-related outcomes, like being employed or number of work absences. They looked at individuals whether or not they had a formal diagnosis. “Variation in symptoms of disorders across many symptoms is typically more informative about the underlying health condition and is potentially richer than standard binary measures for any particular psychiatric disorder,” said Dr. Lahiri. The study focused on symptoms related to major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and panic attacks.

Top symptoms which affect the workplace

For major depression they found that symptoms of insomnia and hyper insomnia, indecisiveness, and severe emotional distress had the greatest impact on work-related outcomes. For women, the fatigue related to depression held them back at work. For generalized anxiety disorder, the duration of the anxiety was the factor with the greatest impact. Other symptoms with far reaching effect were difficulty controlling worry and emotional distress related to worry, anxiety, or nervousness.

Crossover symptoms make formal diagnosis hard, so just treat the symptoms

Significant numbers of Americans don’t meet the criteria for full diagnosis yet they still have symptoms which affect their day-to-day. The observation comes at an interesting time when many health professionals are questioning the validity of formal diagnosis. Too many crossover symptoms are making it difficult to diagnose or treat. Perhaps treating the symptoms is a wiser course of action. “Interventions targeting workplace consequences of mental illness may benefit not only those who meet diagnostic criteria, but also many of these with subclinical levels of symptoms.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Medical Care

 
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