Some 47 percent of working Koreans diagnosed with depression suffer from cognitive disorders, according to a survey by the Korean Neuropsychiatric Association.
The association surveyed 1,000 working adults aged 16 and 64 and found that among those with depression 25 percent resigned due to their psychological problem and 31 percent took temporary leave.
Lee Dong-woo at Sanggye Paik Hospital said, "When we get depressed, we suffer from a loss of energy, but memory, decision-making and focusing require lots of energy, so depression usually accompanies cognitive disorders."
Depression is relatively easy to treat when detected early. But the problem is that many people either cannot read the signs or put off seeking treatment due to the stigma attached to such problems.
Kim Young-hoon at the association said, "The survey showed that only seven percent of working Koreans have themselves checked for depression, while the figures in Australia, Canada and Europe are between 20 and 26 percent. This suggests that many people in Korea fear being ostracized in their communities or punitive measures at work because of the attendant stigma."
Shin Young-chul at Samsung Medical Center said the WHO ranks depression third among diseases that pose the greatest burden to humankind and projects it to rise to No. 1 by 2030.
"Depression among workers is not a personal problem, but an issue that should be treated at the employee welfare level since it poses problems for productivity," Shin added.
A study by the National Health Insurance Corporation estimated that the socio-economic cost of depression rose 42 percent from W7.3 trillion (US$1=W1,022) in 2007 to W10.4 trillion in 2011.