Sept. 25, 2007 -- Depressed workers may feel better and accomplish more at work if they get a little extra help in addition to standard depression care.
Many employers may "experience a positive return on investment from outreach and enhanced treatment of depressed workers," write the researchers.
They included Philip Wang, MD, DrPH, of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Wang's team contacted thousands of employees at 16 large companies, including workers in the airline, insurance, banking, public utility, and manufacturing fields, as well as state government workers.
Interested employees completed surveys about their depression symptoms. Based on the results, the researchers focused on 604 depressed employees.
All of those depressed workers were eligible to get standard depression treatment. Roughly half also got a depression workbook and phone calls from trained counselors.
The counselors offered support and checked on the patients' progress, especially for depressed workers who refused to get in-person therapy.
Over the next year, the workers contacted by the phone counselors reported more improvement in their depression symptoms.
They also worked about two hours more per week than the other depressed workers and tended to keep their jobs.
Wang and colleagues call for further studies to see if the findings apply to other groups of workers, including people in blue-collar jobs.