Italians are the happiest workers in Europe – with the most depressed living in Britain and Germany.
Just 12% of Italians told a survey by the European Depression Association (EDA) that their doctors had diagnosed them with depression.
In Britain, the worst European country for depression, the figure is 26%.
Workers in Germany (61%), Denmark (60%), and GB (58%) who suffered from depression at some time were more likely to take time off work, while those in Turkey take the least sick leave for depression (25%).
At some time, one in 10 European workers take time off for depression which adds up to 30 million workers suffering the illness during their lives, according the survey.
The average absence for someone during a depressive episode is 36 days – although German and British workers took 41 days, but those in Italy coped with 23 days sick.
“The survey results show that much needs to be done in raising awareness and supporting employees and employers in recognising and managing depression in the workplace,” said Dr Vincenzo Costigliola, president of EDA.
Meanwhile, doctors suggest Britain’s record of having the most workers with depression may result to better awareness and diagnosis under the National Health Service than in other nations.
“People have got better at recognising it, and doctors have got better at diagnosing it and supporting patients,” said Emer O’Neill, chief executive of the charity Depression Alliance.
Although depression is the most predominant mental health challenge for workers, striking 11% of European Union citizens at some point in their life.
Better care and support
Despite the size of the problem, nearly 33% of managers told EDA researchers that were not offered any support or resources to deal with employees who have depression.
Managers in Britain (55%) were most likely to have support from their human resources department, while managers in Turkey were most likely to receive support from a medical professional (79%).
In 2012, the estimated cost of depression was put at €92 billion (£73 billion) across the European Union, due to lost productivity as a result of sick leave or under-performance from workers feeling below par making up most of the cost.
At least a quarter of workers do not tell their companies that they are suffering from depression, while a third were concerned admitting they were ill could jeopardise their jobs.
British MEP Stephen Hughes, holder of the Employment and Social Affairs portfolio at the European Parliament, wants firms to assure workers their jobs are not at risk of they suffer from depression and to provide better care.
“Depression in the workplace is an employment and societal challenge that is causing serious damage and which requires attention and action from the European Union,” he said.