Spill reduces symptoms of employee low mood by 74% over six weeks.
Depression can look (and feel) different to different people. It’s more than simply feeling low or unhappy for a few days, and it’s definitely not something you can simply tell yourself ‘to get over’.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent sadness and a lack of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities over a sustained period of time. It can also have physical symptoms like disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, tiredness, and poor concentration. These effects can be long-lasting and debilitating, dramatically changing someone’s day-to-day life.
Day-to-day life includes working life, and on the job employees might find it hard to concentrate,might not be able to get much done, and in severe cases, might not be able to go to work at all.
As a manager or colleague, you don’t need to have all the answers straight away. But it’s important to be educated on depression before taking any concrete steps to help.
We’ve put together some facts and data on the types of depression, its impact on the workforce and your business, and some practical adjustments you can make to support your employees in the workplace.
What are the types of depression?
Major depressive Disorder
People who struggle with major depression, also known as clinical depression, experience acute depressive symptoms most of the time, for most days of the week. 
Depression that lasts for 2 years or longer is called persistent depressive disorder. This term is used to describe two conditions previously known as dysthymia (low-grade persistent depression) and chronic major depression. 
Manic depression or bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder, which is sometimes called ‘manic depression’, has mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy to low ‘depressive’ periods. Unlike simple mood swings, extreme episodes of bipolar disorder can last for many weeks (or even longer). [1,2]
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
SAD is a type of clinical depression which comes and goes with winter, and it can be debilitating for anyone who experiences it. 
Postnatal depression (PND)
Postnatal depression can be experienced by new parents, especially in the first year after a baby is born.
Global statistics on depression
- Over 300 million people in the world struggle with depression. [4,5]
- Globally, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost annually to depression and anxiety at a cost of US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. 
- Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. 
- Severe depression is rated in the same disability category as terminal stage cancer. 
Download our depression return-to-work checklist
UK statistics on depression
Impact of depression on the workforce
- 8 million employees suffer from a work-related illness, of which around 914,000 struggle with work-related stress, depression or anxiety. 
- Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. Around 1 in 6 adults in the UK are affected by depression. [8, 9]
- 19% of employed adults experienced some form of depression in 2021, with rates of depression in adults doubling in comparison to pre-pandemic levels. [8,10]
- 70% of all cases experience mild symptoms, 20% experience moderate symptoms, and 10% struggle with severe depression. [5, 11]
- Poor financial wellbeing can be linked to depression. Around 1 in 4 (24%) of those who struggle to pay their energy bills experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms. 
Employees with depression struggle to ask for help because of rampant mental health stigma. A damning 30% of people hold the stigmatising belief that a ‘weak’ personality causes depression. 
Research also shows that a vast majority of people who suffer from depression don't get treatment for their condition either because of this stigma or a lack of knowledge. 
- 55% of workers who experience depression say that work contributes in some way. But only 36% discuss this with their manager or colleagues. [15,16]
- 50% of employees with depression do not get treatment, increasing the risk to their physical and mental health. People with untreated depression are more prone to disrupted sleep, heart disease, weight fluctuations, weak immune systems, and physical pain. [17,18]
- 19% of staff who are depressed say that they can’t speak to managers about their condition. 
The cost of depression for employers
Depression can have severe effects, with employees finding it difficult to turn up to work. Depression is responsible for 109 million lost working days in the UK every year, at a cost of £9 billion to organisations. [5, 9, 20]
Depression is one of the biggest causes of ‘presenteeism’, the term used to describe turning up to the job but being unfit to work properly. 
Statistics on depression by demographic
As with all mental health issues, depression does not affect all groups of people in the same way. Neither does it present the same way for everyone. Certain demographics are differently affected by depression because of a whole host of reasons, some of them being socioeconomic disadvantages, financial insecurity or their positioning in society. Understanding this can prevent generalised beliefs around mental health, and help you really understand the wellbeing needs of your team.
- Women are twice as likely to experience depression than men. 24% of women report having had depression at some stage in their life, compared with 13% of men. [5,22]
- 33% of employees experiencing depression are aged 25-34. This age group makes up the largest proportion of total cases, followed by 35-44 year olds (who make up around 25% of the total). 
- During the first lockdown, disabled (39%) and clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) adults (31%) were more likely to experience depression than non-disabled (13%) and non-CEV adults (20%). [5, 23]
- Being LGBTIQ+ doesn’t automatically mean someone may have mental health issues, but it might mean they have a higher risk of poor mental health. Around half (1 in 2) of LGBTIQ+ people experience depression. In comparison, 1 in 6 of the general population are affected by depression. 
- People of colour are at a higher risk of depression because of their experience with racism, from microaggressions to systemic racism. 
- Depressive symptoms are doubled in older British South Asian and Black Caribbean people compared with Europeans, most likely because of socioeconomic disadvantages. 
- People on the spectrum are four times as likely to experience depression over the course of their lives as their neurotypical peers. 
- People with a disability are five times (35%) more likely to experience depression than those who are able-bodied (7%). People with a disability may include those with a mental health condition or illness that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more. 
- In late 2022, moderate to severe symptoms of depression were higher among these groups of people in the context of the rising cost of living :
- Economically inactive because of long-term sickness (59%)
- Unpaid carers for 35 or more hours a week (37%)
- Adults with a disability (35%)
- Young adults aged 16 to 29 years (28%)
- Single person household (21%)
Statistics on depression by industry
- 4 in 5 small business owners are worried about the cost of living crisis, and a fifth of them struggle with depression. 
- Tech workers are five times more likely to be depressed than the UK average. 52% of tech workers suffer from anxiety or depression. [29, 30]
- Depression is three times more likely to affect people who work in creative industries because of blurred work-life boundaries, the lack of job security and poor pay. 
Statistics on postnatal depression
- Both antenatal (during pregnancy) and postnatal (after pregnancy) depression affect around 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth. 
- New mothers were twice as likely to have postnatal depression during the first lockdown, more than double the average rates pre-pandemic. 
- Postnatal depression should dissipate within a few months, but 3 in 10 people will still be ill after the first year. 
- Paternal depression ranged from 24% to 50% in men who had partners with postpartum depression. 
Statistics on bipolar disorder
- 1.3 million people in the UK live with bipolar disorder. That’s around 1 in 50 people. 
- Bipolar disorder is considered to be the sixth leading cause of disability in the world by the World Health Organization. 
- On average, it takes nine years to get diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and there is a misdiagnosis around 3.5 times. [36, 38]
- 90% of people with bipolar disorder spoke to their employer about their condition, but 24% of those said that they regretted doing it. This could be because of existing mental health stigma in the workplace. [39, 40]
- More than 30% of people with bipolar disorder can expect a full recovery while another 40% can expect a very marked reduction in their symptoms. 
Statistics on Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- More than 1 in 20 people in the UK have been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. 
- People in London are much more likely to be diagnosed with SAD than those anywhere else in the UK (over 11%). 
- In around 10% of people with seasonal affective disorder, the condition has the opposite seasonal pattern, occurring in the spring and summer months and stopping during the fall and winter months. 
Spill therapy helps employees to address low mood, anxiety, and anything else affecting their mental wellbeing.
US statistics on depression
- Over 70% of employees reported some level of concern with their depression levels in 2020. 
- 7.8 % of all adults in the United States had at least one episode of major depression in 2019. 
- 29% of employees said they were depressed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
- Only 57% of employees who report moderate depression and 40% of those who report severe depression symptoms receive treatment. 
- Depression causes an estimated 200 million lost working days each year, at a cost to employers of somewhere between $17 billion and $44 billion. 
More facts on depression
- Depression may be linked to genetics and family history. People with family members who struggle with depression are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop it. 
- If a person has an identical twin with depression, they have a 70% chance of experiencing the condition themselves. 
- Physical activity can reduce the risk of depression. People who do an hour of physical activity each week reduce the chance of developing depression by 12%. 
- Depression and anxiety are closely linked, almost 50% of people who struggle with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. 
- Depression can also impact your physical health. Headaches, gut problems, chronic pain, and fatigue are all physical symptoms of depression. 
- Although depression is a scary and debilitating mental health condition, it’s also one of the most successfully treated ones. 80-90% of people with depression respond well to treatment. 
Spill’s take on helping an employee with depression
Have a mental health policy in place:
Our guide will let you assemble your own overall mental health policy by copying and amending various specific policy templates, plans and initiative ideas — based on wherever your company is at right now.
Offer your employees the right support:
It’s your legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for anybody in your team who’s experiencing a mental health condition like depression. But depression affects everybody differently, and it’s important to ask open questions and listen to what your colleague actually needs from you as a manager or leader.
For a closer look at how to support an employee with depression, check out our depression resources for employers 👇
- Build your own ‘mental health policy’
- How to manage an employee with depression
- How much time off should I give an employee who's struggling with depression?
- How should I discuss performance with an employee who has depression?
- How can I raise awareness of depression in my company and overcome stigma?
Download our depression return-to-work checklist
Spill picks up on anyone struggling in your team, and points them towards best-in-class therapy.