People with a chronic illness like diabetes or cancer are more prone to mental illness than the general population, finds a HealthPartners report.

“What is striking about the research in our report is how it underlines the relationship between the mind-body connection and clearly shows that what is happening in the body has an indelible impact on the mind,” says HealthPartners CEO Eileen Dooley.

Read: The missing link: The connection between physical and mental health

The report also finds:

  • About 87% of Canadians are likely to be directly affected by chronic disease or major illness in their lifetime. An estimated 25 to 50% of people living with a chronic illness will also suffer from depression.
  • 20% of caregivers of chronically ill individuals reported experiencing depression as a result of their care giving responsibilities. Many of these caregivers are balancing caring for a loved one while continuing to work.
  • Of all the Canadians who are diagnosed with cancer, as many as 42% experience depression.
  • People who survive heart attacks but suffer from major depression have a three to four times higher risk of dying within six months than heart attack survivors who are not depressed.
  • Research shows that depression increases the risk of mortality in people with diabetes by 30%.
  • One in four people will be clinically depressed at some point in their cancer journey.
  • Today, chronic diseases cost Canadians at least $190-billion annually
  • The prevalence of mental health disorders generally is higher in the workplace than in the general population.
  • Nearly 3 million Canadians will experience depression at one point in their lives. Most often, it affects people in their working years, between the ages of 24 and 44.
  • Every day, 500,000 Canadians are absent from their workplace because of depression, costing the economy more than $51 billion annually.
  • The fastest growing category of disability costs to Canadian employers is depression. In fact, the percentage of Canadians with depression who have had to leave their work for short-term and long-term disability or who have had to leave work permanently is a staggering 70%.
  • Employees who have both a mental and a physical illness stay off work the longest.

Read: Employers focus on chronic disease

In the federal public service, the statistics are even higher:

  • In 2010, mental illness was responsible for 47% of all approved disability claims in the federal public service—a rate almost double that from 20 years ago.
  • Employee mental illness costs companies—and the public service sector—lost productivity, decreased revenues, and increased expenses for temporary employees and disability claims. The fastest growing category of disability costs to Canadian employers is depression. In fact, the percentage of Canadians with depression who have had to leave their work for short-term and long-term disability or who have had to leave work permanently is a staggering 70%.

Plus, there are a host of effects that employee absenteeism creates for co-workers, who must carry a much heavier load. Such a super-stressful environment can create an increasingly unhappy, unhealthy workplace.

Read:
Chronic diseases taking a toll on Canadians

That’s the workplace effect. But what about the person suffering from mental illness?

In addition to a mental condition, the report says a person will generally experience a range of physical symptoms that include headaches, lethargy, insomnia, even obesity. These symptoms not only worsen the mental disorder, but can also make it harder for the person to return to work.

The report adds, “The mind-body connection is real; it’s disturbing; and it’s serious.”

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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