The cost of depression in the workplace can be steep: lower productivity, higher absenteeism and higher medical costs. Some studies put the national price tag for untreated depression in the workplace as high as $80 billion a year.

How much does employee depression cost your organization? The Depression Calculator is a tool that provides employers with a financial snapshot of workplace costs associated with untreated depression and the potential savings that would accrue by helping employees suffering from depression to obtain treatment. Results are tailored to organizations based on size, industry type, location and age/sex breakdown of the work force.

The tool was compiled by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)in 2004 and was reissued again earlier this year to reflect new economic data. It uses a Productivity Impact Model, a research-based management tool, to predict the number of days of absenteeism and associated costs, as well as to project the net savings from treatment.

The calculator is broken into four sections. Participants first enter basic demographics about their type of business and various characteristics of their work force, such as size and composition based on age and sex.

The second section charts the expected prevalence of depression based on these responses and estimates the lost time and medical costs that untreated depression are likely to incur. The third section estimates the likely reduction in absenteeism and medical costs if employees get treatment and the fourth section estimates the incremental benefits over a three year period.

In addition, the Depression Calculator site includes a good list of resources about depression for employers and for individuals who might be suffering from depression.

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