Depression is something that many people don’t like to discuss because of the continued social stigma against mental illness. The American culture, after all, tends to prize toughness. Depression seems to many like an admission that something can wear you down.
However, depression is actually a serious problem for many American workers — especially those who have suffered work injuries that are making their home and work lives difficult. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s a multi-billion dollar problem that affects millions of Americans.
Any workplace injury or illness has the potential to deeply disrupt numerous areas of your life. For example, imagine that you develop lung disease from on-the-job exposure to a toxic substance. The coughing, chest pain and fatigue alone can affect your ability to concentrate on tasks and move freely.
While that certainly affects your productivity and capacity to work, your problems don’t stop when you go home. There, your illness and pain can interfere with your leisure time, make socializing uncomfortable or exhausting, and with your ability to sleep. Is it any wonder, then, that you might end up falling into a depression?
Under the workers’ compensations laws in Illinois, depression that arises from physical injuries or illness incurred at work may be eligible for compensation. This is an important benefit. Without it, an injured worker may not receive medication or therapy designed to treat his or her depression. This can ultimately delay his or her return to work or continue to impair his or her productivity even after the initial injury heals.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove the direct connection between depression and a workplace injury or illness — even when it might seem obvious to a layperson. To improve your chances of including depression as part of your workers’ compensation claim, be as open as possible about your feelings with your doctor. Tell your doctor if the depression is a result of the way that your injury has affected your health, your work and your personal life. The stronger the documentation, the greater the likelihood that you’ll gain approval for your claim.