Depression now top reason for physician visits: Survey

Physical health issues no longer account for the majority of doctors' visits in Canada — depression, stress and anxiety disorders are now top causes of physician visits, according to a survey by Morneau Shepell.
Depression is now in line with high blood pressure as a top reason behind doctors' visits, according the survey of 1,223 Canadians.

Sixty-three per cent of physicians said mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorders and stress represent the fastest increase in their recent patient cases.

Eight in 10 (82 per cent) employees who reported struggling with mental health issues said it impacts their work, while only 53 per cent of employees suffering from physical health issues said it impacts their work.

Workplace engagement levels are strongly correlated with mental health issues as well, according to the survey. More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of employees who are highly engaged reported excellent or very good mental health. By comparison, one-third (35 per cent) of employees who were not engaged reported good mental health.

Sources of workplace stress are most often related to emotional or interpersonal issues, said 60 per cent of the respondents. Job-related issues are the source of workplace stress for 43 per cent of respondents.

One-half of employers surveyed believe they have employees with mental health issues, found the survey.

"It's clear that a large number of managers are seeing behaviours such as lowered productivity, increased absences, anxious behaviour or a dishevelled appearance that would lead them to this belief," said Paula Allen, vice-president, research and integrative solutions at Morneau Shepell. "This shows how important it is for managers to know how to respond appropriately."