This Major Factor Is Costing Employers Over $50 Billion Annually

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Patti Murin, who plays Anna in the Broadway production of Frozen took to her Instagram in April to address "calling out" of the previous night's show. 

"So last night I called out of the show because I had a massive anxiety attack in the afternoon. It had been building up for a while, and while the past month has been incredible, all of the ups and downs and stress and excitement really takes a toll on my mental health. I’ve learned that these situations aren’t something to 'deal with' or 'push through.' Anxiety and depression are real diseases that affect so many of us. It requires a lot of rest and self care to heal every time it becomes more than I can handle in my daily life. While I hate missing the show for any reason at all, Disney has been nothing but supportive of me as I navigate my life and work, and I’m so grateful to them.  Just remember that you’re not alone, your feelings are real, and this is not your fault. Even Disney princesses are terrified sometimes."

Nor are "Disney princesses" alone. 

Millennials report higher rates of depression than any other generation and are now the biggest sector of the workforce, creating new challenges in work culture and mental health treatment. To boot, recent research shows depression is becoming more prevalent in younger women.

These mental health struggles are extending themselves into the workplace, with millennial and Gen Z women far more likely than their male counterparts to experience burn out and depression. It's both emotionally and financially costly. 

Depression costs the U.S. economy more than $51 billion a year in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs, according to mental illness nonprofit Mental Health America.  

We tapped Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, Licensed Psychologist & Founder of The Practice, a foundation revolutionizing the way girls and women care for their emotional health, for her insight and she reminded that, "it's important to look at the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Millennials changed what the workplace looks like." 

"Recognizing that entrepreneurship is a lifestyle rather than a job is an important part of understanding the pros and cons that come with the lifestyle. One of the most exciting yet often, detrimental parts of being an entrepreneur is the obsession that comes with putting all you’ve got into an idea of your own. That obsession can be isolating and harmful in multiple ways. Many entrepreneurs work alone much of the time. It’s hard to connect with others in a meaningful way when hyper-focused on a singular vision and purpose. Time is scarce for entrepreneurs, so self-care suffers. Financial insecurity often increases stress levels." 

"With that said, entrepreneurial lifestyle patterns certainly do not cause mental health concerns, though they may contribute. As a community, we can offer discounts on gym memberships and sports leagues for entrepreneurs, taking a lead from the education system. For example, when children or adolescents are home schooled, they are encouraged to engage in the extra-curricular sports, arts programs, clubs, and other school activities provided by their home school district. Once we graduate, our human need for connection doesn’t decrease yet organized opportunities do. So, it’s important for entrepreneurs to integrate being human and being successful, according to society’s standards." 

So what's a woman to do? 

Get help. It was widely misreported that the late designer Kate Spade did not seek treatment out of fear that it would hurt her brand. However, according to a statement released by her husband, Andy Spade, that was not the case. "Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives," he wrote. 

Educate yourself. During a 2009 lecture at Stanford University, Professor Robert Sapolsky told the room, "Depression is absolutely crippling. Depression is incredibly pervasive, and thus, important to talk about." He makes the argument that depression is "the worst disease you can get." 

"It is bad news and it is becoming more common," he shared. "If I had to define major depression in one sentence, I would say, it's a biochemical disorder with a genetic component and early experience influences, where somebody can't appreciate sunsets." The room laughs. But, he says, "When you think about it, that is a very sad thing." 

He explains that though, "we all get depressed," not everyone feels lousy and then copes. "There is this lurking sense given that all of us have periods of being depressed and come out the other end. When you look at people who go down and stay down.. there's always this little voice between the lines there--'Come on get better. We all deal with this sort of thing.'" 

He furthers, "I will make the argument that depression is as real a biological disorder as is juvenile diabetes. And you don't sit down a diabetic and say, 'Oh come on, what's with this insulin stuff, pull it together.'"

Pull it together. It's probably a pep talk you've given yourself in a mirror. Pull. It. Together. Sometimes you can't. 

Connect IRL. Dr. Lauren explains, "The increase in mental health concerns for millennials and Gen Z can be attributed to evolved gender expectations, increased screen time, and interpersonal stress perpetuated by social media. We mustn’t confuse connected ( via social media) for connection. As human beings, we need to connect with others in a meaningful way. We are social beings having a human experience, not visa versa. 

She suggests, "that entrepreneurs work in community spaces, such as WeWork or my personal favorite, The Wing. Even without significant engagement with those around us, being in the company of others often feels better than being alone day-in and day-out. We are social beings having a human experience, not visa versa. We need each other to feel good." 

Written By Arianna Schoildager

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