Background: The economic burden of depression in the United States--including major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, and dysthymia--was estimated at $83.1 billion in 2000. We update these findings using recent data, focusing on MDD alone and accounting for comorbid physical and psychiatric disorders.
Method: Using national survey (DSM-IV criteria) and administrative claims data (ICD-9 codes), we estimate the incremental economic burden of individuals with MDD as well as the share of these costs attributable to MDD, with attention to any changes that occurred between 2005 and 2010.
Results: The incremental economic burden of individuals with MDD increased by 21.5% (from $173.2 billion to $210.5 billion, inflation-adjusted dollars). The composition of these costs remained stable, with approximately 45% attributable to direct costs, 5% to suicide-related costs, and 50% to workplace costs. Only 38% of the total costs were due to MDD itself as opposed to comorbid conditions.
Conclusions: Comorbid conditions account for the largest portion of the growing economic burden of MDD. Future research should analyze further these comorbidities as well as the relative importance of factors contributing to that growing burden. These include population growth, increase in MDD prevalence, increase in treatment cost per individual with MDD, changes in employment and treatment rates, as well as changes in the composition and quality of MDD treatment services.
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