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Massage therapists who market to employers have new evidence to bolster the case for massage in the workplace: Work-related stress contributes to depression. And depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide, reduces the productivity of employees, increases the frequency of worker absences and can lead to premature retirement.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found job stress and a lack of social support in the workplace were associated with major episodes of depression in men. In women, depression was linked to lack of decision authority on the job and low levels of social support.

The study utilized data from the Canadian Community Health Survey and surveyed more than 24,000 people in a variety of occupations, according to a university press release. Results were published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Almost 5 percent of those surveyed—3.4 percent of men and 6 percent of women—met the criteria for having a major depressive episode during a 12-month period.

“Depression in the workplace is a major public health problem that requires intervention yet remains under-recognized and under-treated,” the study’s authors said. “Both primary preventive approaches and high-quality treatments by primary care, occupational health and mental-health professionals can be used to reduce the burden of depression in the workplace.”