Returning to work after major medical event increases risk of depression, study finds

Discussions of returning to work after an extended absence or physical challenge for work or family can create feelings of anxiety and depression, according to a new study published this week by the Boston…

Returning to work after major medical event increases risk of depression, study finds

Discussions of returning to work after an extended absence or physical challenge for work or family can create feelings of anxiety and depression, according to a new study published this week by the Boston Consulting Group.

“Bringing back work is especially concerning because the topics that affect us—of interest to our employees and/or our customers—have direct and indirect consequences for us,” the report says.

The study looked at 875 top executives in large, mid- and small companies in Canada, the United States and Germany, including 150 who had returned to work two to three months after having experienced a major medical event. Nearly half reported that they felt at risk of depression. Nearly two-thirds reported that they had negative feelings about being in the workforce and 59 percent felt guilty, angry or disgusted about returning to work.

Returning to work also impacts staff morale. Overall, 26 percent of respondents felt positive about their job performance during their absence and 10 percent said it was slightly negative. But for those with high job satisfaction, more than 20 percent reported that it was much worse than before their absence and 15 percent said it was very much worse.

Returning to work also hits feelings of competence. Thirty-nine percent of respondents felt that their job performance was very much more difficult than before their absence and 16 percent said it was very much worse. However, nearly 50 percent reported feeling very competent compared to just 13 percent who reported feeling very competent before their absence.

Women were more likely to report more difficulty in returning to work than men. Twenty-nine percent of respondents in that category reported more difficulty than before their absence, as did 19 percent of those who were working full time in the two-to-three-month timeframe.

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