42.5% of corporate employees suffer from depression: ASSOCHAM

Monday, April 06, 2015
Demanding schedules, high stress levels and performance linked perquisites in private sectors, nearly 42.5% of employees in private sectors are afflicted from depression or general anxiety disorder, compared to government employees with lesser levels of psychological demand at work, an ASSOCHAM study coinciding with the “World Health day” noted.

Day ahead of the World Health Day (April 7) prepared by the associated chamber of commerce and industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on “Preventive Healthcare: Impact on Corporate Sector” reveals that depression is the first hard hit disease that was observed among the respondents, with 42.5 per cent of the corporate employees suffering from this lifestyle disease. The rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by 45-50% among corporate employees in the last eight years, according to the ASSOCHAM recent study.

The report is based on the views of 1,250 corporate employees from 150 companies across 18 broad sectors like media, telecom and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) etc.

The report included the major cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabd, Pune, Chandigarh, Dehradun etc. A little over 200 employee were selected from each city on an average. Delhi ranks first afflicted from depression or general anxiety disorder followed by Bangalore (2nd), Mumbai (3rd), Ahemdabad (4th) Chandigarh (5th), Hyderbad (6th ) and Pune (7th ).

As per ASSOCHAM’s corporate employees’ survey result, around 42.5% of the sample population are suffering from depression or general anxiety.  Obesity is the second hard hit disease that was observed among the respondents, with 23% of the sample corporate employees suffering from obesity alone can modify occupational morbidity, mortality and injury risks that can further affect workplace absence, disability, productivity and healthcare costs. High blood pressure (B.P) and diabetes are the third and fourth largest disease with a share of 9 per cent and 8 per cent respectively as suffered among the corporate employees. Spondolysis (5.5 per cent), heart disease (4 per cent), cervical (3.0 per cent), asthma (2.5 per cent), slip disk (1 per cent) and arthritis (1.5 per cent) are the diseases that are mostly suffered by corporate employees.

"Corporate employees have to survive the stiff global competitive environment to save their jobs, adding pressure on their health, leading to silent diseases," said Mr. D S Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM while releasing the survey.

Increasingly demanding schedules and high stress levels are leading to depression or general anxiety disorders in individual lives and have wide ranging effects like daytime fatigue, physical discomfort, psychological stress, performance deterioration, low pain threshold and increased absenteeism.

Nearly 38.5% of corporate employees sleep  less than 6 hours in a day due to  high stressed levels that arise out of tough targets set for themselves by employers and cause diseases like depression, hypertension, sugar etc.,

In terms of the physical fitness, it was found that around 57% of the employees in the private organization said they 'do not exercise at all', 23% do physical workout devoting less than 1 hour/week, 12 %of the employees exercise for 1-3 hours/week, 8% of employees exercise for 3-6 hours/week and merely 7% stay fit by exercising for more than 6 hours/week. The majority of the government employee said that they 'do exercise' and physical workout to stay fit by exercising for more than 8 hours/week.
The paper indicates that dedicated workout (exercise) can delay or prevent diabetes, some cancers and heart problems. It even reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. However, lack of exercise may increase risk factor for developing headaches.

As per the ASSOCHAM findings, about 48% of respondents said that they feel fatigue on regular basis due to general anxiety and close to 27% of participants in the survey admit that they suffer from regular headache.

“Work pressure is a killer these days. Lack of self confidence, unrealistic expectations and a nutrient deficient diet are factors that trigger off the condition too. Biological, psychological and environmental factors play a role too. "Both genetic and neurochemical changes have been linked to depression, caused by the underactivity in neurotransmitters, which play an important role in the brain”, said Dr. B K Rao, Chairman of ASSOCHAM Health Committee Council.

Mr. Rawat further said that taking up corporate wellness program improves chronic and lifestyle diseases of India Inc. The benefits of a workplace wellness program, improve presenteeism, Control/reduces escalating health care costs, improve productivity, increases employee loyalty and reduces attrition rate, employees leading healthy lifestyles tend to take lower sick leaves with improved work performance and increased productivity that reduces overall costs of the organisation.

Around 55 per cent of the survey respondents’ fall under the age bracket of 20-29 years, followed by 30-39 years (26 per cent), 40-49 years (16 per cent), 50-59 years (2 per cent) and 60-69 years (approximately 1 per cent).

           Source: Assocham Survey, 2015

The survey was able to target corporate employees from broad sectors, with maximum share contributed by employees from IT/ITes  and BPO sector (17 per cent).

Source: Assocham Survey, 2015
Employees working in engineering and telecom sector contributed 9 per cent and 8 per cent respectively in the questionnaire. Nearly 6 per cent of the employees belonged from market research/KPO and media background each. Management, FMCG and Infrastructure sector employees share is 5 per cent each, in the total survey. Respondents from power and real estate sector contributed 4 per cent each. Employees from education and food& beverages sector provided a share of 3 per cent each. Advertising, manufacturing and textiles employees offered a share of 2 per cent each in the survey results.

There are a number of physical and psychological factors that increase the risk of depression are
  • Lifestyle factors (e.g., poor sleep habits, excessive caffeine use)
  • Environmental conditions (e.g., noise, extreme temperatures)
  • Circadian system disruptions (e.g., shift work)
  • Mental health disorders (depression, substance abuse)
  • Medical disorders (e.g., hyperthyroidism, cardiovascular conditions, joint and low back pain)
  • Neurological disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s and Alzheimers’ disease)
  • Other sleep disorders (e.g., obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome)
  • Stress (interpersonal, occupational, financial)
  • Medication use, side effects, and discontinuation
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