Background: Depression is one of the most common causes of disability and is associated with substantial reductions in the individual's quality of life. The aim of this study was to estimate the economic burden of depression to Swedish society from 1997 to 2005.
Materials and methods: The study was conducted in a cost-of-illness framework, measuring both the direct cost of providing health care to depressive patients, and the indirect costs as the value of production that is lost due to morbidity or mortality. The costs were estimated by a prevalence and top-down approach.
Results: The cost of depression increased from a total of 1.7 billion euros in 1997 to 3.5 billion euros in 2005, representing a doubling of the burden of depression to society. The main reason for the cost increase is found in the significant increase in indirect costs due to sick leave and early retirement during the past decade, whereas direct costs were relatively stable over time. In 2005, indirect costs were estimated at 3 billion euros (86% of total costs) and direct costs at 500 million euros (16%). Cost of drugs was estimated at 100 million euros (3% of total cost).
Conclusion: The cost of depression is substantial to society and the main cost driver is indirect costs due to sick leave and early retirement. The cost of depression has doubled during the past eight years making it a major public health concern for the individuals afflicted, carers and decision makers.