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Rethink Depression
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Spotting the signs

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The World Health Organisation has ranked depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide.1 Picture someone with depression and chances are you’ll imagine someone who is feeling down and tired all the time. And while sadness and lethargy are important symptoms of depression, there are other symptoms, such as cognitive symptoms, which directly affect a person’s ability to function both inside and outside the workplace.

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Cognitive symptoms can cause problems such as lack of concentration, indecisiveness and forgetfulness.2 Left untreated, these symptoms can have a negative effect on a person’s performance at work.3,4 We have only recently begun to understand the importance of cognitive symptoms in depression, and an individual who starts losing the job skills he or she has relied on for years may not even realise that depression is the cause.

Being able to recognise when your employees are experiencing depression is the first crucial step towards helping them cope in the workplace.

Objective measures of productivity and subjective reports of social function provided by the affected employees and their colleagues mean that managers and supervisors are well placed to spot symptoms of depression and potentially assist the individual in seeking help.5


Employers are in a unique position when it comes to reducing the impact of depression, not just on the individual employee, but on the wider business and even society at large, and so have the opportunity to make a difference to the depression community.

For more information on spotting the signs of cognitive dysfunction in your employees, and supporting them if they have depression, Beyond Blue have put together a factsheet called managing someone with a mental health condition

  1. World Health Organisation. Depression Factsheet. Available at: Accessed June 2017.

  2. Fehnel SE et al. CNS Spectr 2013; 25: 1–10.

  3. MacIntyre RS et al. Depress Anxiety 2013; 30(6): 515–527.

  4. Lam RW et al. Can J Psychiatry 2014; 59(12): 649–654.

  5. European Network for Workplace Health Promotion. Depression in the Workplace Policy recommendations on how to tackle the leading cause of disability worldwide. Available at: Accessed June 2017.

  6. Beyond Blue. Managing someone with a mental health condition. Available at: Accessed June 2017.

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