British workers 'are the most depressed in Europe' as one in four is diagnosed with the illness

  • European survey found 26% of British workers diagnosed with depression
  • Britons and Germans took the most time off as a result - 41 days on average

British workers are the most likely to be diagnosed with depression in Europe, a survey has found.
The worrying extent of the illness in the UK was laid bare by the poll that revealed 26 per cent of Britons had received the diagnosis from their GP, compared with 12 per cent of Italians.
Those in the UK also took the most time off as a result of the illness, recording 41 days on average compared with the European mean of 36.
Stigma? One in four of depressed workers surveyed said they didn't tell their employers for fear of losing their jobs
Stigma? One in four of depressed workers surveyed said they didn't tell their employers about their condition for fear of losing their jobs
The study from the European Depression Association, also revealed than one in 10 working people in Europe have taken time off because of the debilitating psychological condition, which is equivalent to 21,000 lost working days. In 2010, depression was estimated to cost the EU £73billion.
Despite the size of the problem, nearly one in three managers reported they had no formal support or resources to deal with employees who have depression, and 43 per cent called for better policies and legislation to protect employees.


Below are the more common symptoms associated with depression:
Persistent sadness or low mood. This may be with or without weepiness.
Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities you normally enjoy.
Disturbed sleep compared with your usual pattern. 
Change in appetite. 
Fatigue (tiredness) or loss of energy.
Agitation or slowing of movements.
Poor concentration or indecisiveness. Even simple tasks can seem difficult.
Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
Preoccupation with death and dying.
Visit your GP if you think you might be affected. For more information visit:
A quarter of employees with depression said they did not inform their work with many saying they feared it would put their job at risk.
The IDEA survey (Impact of Depression in the Workplace in Europe Audit) polled more than 7,000 people in Europe.
MEP Stephen Hughes said: 'Depression in the workplace is an employment and societal challenge that is causing serious damage and which requires attention and action from the European Union.'
Depression is the biggest mental health challenge among working-age people, affecting one in five people at some point in their lives.
However, the poll revealed there is still poor awareness of common symptoms. While 88 per cent identified low mood or sadness as a sign, just a third knew that forgetfulness could point to depression and around half knew it could affect concentration.
When asked what is needed to support employees with depression in the workplace, managers most often cited more counselling services and better government legislation and policies. 
Dr Vincenzo Costigliola, President of the European Depression Association said 'The results of the IDEA survey show that much needs to be done in raising awareness and supporting employees and employers in recognising and managing depression in the workplace.
'We ask policymakers to consider the impact of depression on the workforce and charge them with addressing depression and workers and workplace safety.'
Full results of the IDEA survey will be published in 2013.