Economic costs of depression in China

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2007 Feb;42(2):110-6. doi: 10.1007/s00127-006-0151-2. Epub 2007 Jan 17.


Background: A recent survey in China indicated the 12-month prevalence rate of depressive disorders was 2.5% in Beijing and 1.7% in Shanghai. These disorders may result in disability, premature death, and severe suffering of those affected and their families.

Aims: This study estimates the economic consequences of depressive disorders in China.

Methods: Depressive disorders can have both direct and indirect costs. To obtain direct costs, the research team interviewed 505 patients with depressive disorders and their caregivers in eight clinics/hospitals in five cities in China. Depression-related suicide rates were obtained from published literature. The human capital approach was used to estimate indirect costs. Epidemiological data were taken from available literature.

Results: The total estimated cost of depression in China is 51,370 million Renminbi (RMB) (or US $6,264 million) at 2002 prices. Direct costs were 8,090 million RMB (or US$ 986 million), about 16% of the total cost of depression. Indirect costs were 43,280 million RMB (or US$ 5,278 million), about 84% of the total cost of depression.

Conclusions: Depression is a very costly disorder in China. The application of an effective treatment--reducing the length of depressive episodes (or preventing episodes) and reducing suicide rates--will lead to a significant reduction in the total burden resulting from depressive disorders. Government policymakers should seriously consider further investments in mental health services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Depressive Disorder / economics*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / economics*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence