Objective: Although the clinical relevance of minor depression has been demonstrated in many studies, the economic costs are not well explored. In this study, we examine the economic costs of minor depression.
Method: In a large-scale, population-based study in the Netherlands (n = 5504) the costs of minor depression were compared with the costs of major depression and dysthymia. Excess costs, i.e. the costs of a disorder over and above the costs attributable to other illnesses, were estimated with help of regression analysis. The direct medical costs, the direct non-medical costs and the indirect non-medical costs were calculated. The year 2003 was used as the reference year.
Results: The annual per capita excess costs of minor depression were US$ 2141 (95% CI = 753-3529) higher than the base rate costs of US$ 1023, while the costs of major depression were US$ 3313 (95% CI = 1234-5390) higher than the base rate. The costs of minor depression per 1 million inhabitants were 160 million dollars per year, which is somewhat less than the costs of major depression (192 million dollars per year).
Conclusion: The economic costs associated with minor depression are considerable and approach those of major depression.