It may seem counterintuitive to encourage an employee suffering from depressive disorder to brave through a work day, but it’s much healthier when they do, found a study from the University of Melbourne.

The reason comes down to cost. Researchers from the university and the Menzies Research Institute at the University of Tasmania looked at costs based on productivity, medications, and use of health services when out-of-the-office — the first to do so in Australia — and it adds up. "Cost associated with depression-related absence and attending work while depressed [was] found to be higher for white collar workers who also reported poorer quality of life than blue collar workers,” Dr Fiona Cocker, from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said in a press release.

In other words, you’re less productive and spending more money on health care and medications from the couch than if you were toughing it out in the office. A separate survey from The Conference Board of Canada (CBOC) found two-thirds of employees who return to work after being out for depressive disorders have “trouble concentrating, remembering things, making decisions, and performing tasks even though they may no longer be depressed.” These insights, according to Cocker, “suggest that future workplace mental health promotions should include mental health policies that focus on promoting continued work attendance.”

This is especially important when you consider the study published in PLOS ONE that found up to 30 percent of “sick-listed employees with major depressive disorder are still absent from work after a year,” regardless of increased efforts to get them back into the office. Fifty percent of the employees diagnosed with major depressive disorder have reported being able to continue working despite their symptoms, PLOS ONE researchers wrote. In which case, a more accommodating workplace can both encourage reduced symptoms in employees, as well as reduce the general mental health stigma that, unfortunately, still lingers, though it shouldn’t.

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States, according to the World Health Organization, affecting millions of people worldwide. And there’s nothing wrong with looking to someone for professional help as depression isn't at all like feeling sad. Depression can't be remedied with a quality wine and girlfriends the way most things can.

It’s when sufferers can't find relief that they should be able to look to their employer, and otherwise community, for some help.

Source: Cocker F, et al. Working during depression can offer health benefits to employees. University of Melbourne. 2014.