New Study Shows Annual Costs of Major Depressive Disorder Sufferers in the United States Top $210 Billion; Managing Principal Paul Greenberg Discusses Findings in Scientific American

February 25, 2015

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry ("The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010)," February 2015) found that the economic burden of individuals in the United States suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) rose 21%, from $173.2 billion in 2005 to $210.5 billion in 2010. The study also found that the 2008 economic recession made it particularly hard for those suffering from depression to retain their jobs. 

The study - led by Analysis Group Managing Principal Paul Greenberg, along with Manager Andrée-Anne Fournier, Vice Presidents Tamar Sisitsky and Crystal Pike, and Professor Ronald C. Kessler of the Harvard Medical School - follows on the authors' previous landmark studies on the societal costs of depression published in 1993 and 2003. This new 2015 study draws on national survey and administrative claims data to estimate the incremental economic burden of individuals with MDD (accounting for MDD as well as comorbid physical and psychiatric disorders) with a focus on changes that occurred between 2005 and 2010. 

The authors noted that only 38% of the total costs of depression were due to major depression itself as opposed to comorbid conditions. Given this result, the authors concluded that future research should further analyze these comorbidities as well as the relative importance of factors contributing to the growing burden. These factors include population growth, increases in the prevalence of major depression, increases in the treatment costs for each sufferer of major depression, changes in employment and treatment rates, and changes in the composition and quality of major depression treatment services.

The results of this new study were also featured in a Scientific American article, "The Growing Economic Burden of Depression in the U.S." (February 25, 2015), by Mr. Greenberg. In the article, Mr. Greenberg points out that "for every dollar spent treating depression, an additional $4.70 is spent on direct and indirect costs of related illnesses, and another $1.90 is spent on a combination of reduced workplace productivity and the economic costs associated with suicide directly linked to depression." Reflecting on his decades of experience studying the economics of depression, Mr. Greenberg also contends that improved data can offer new opportunities for more constructive, high-quality treatment: "With better data on direct and indirect costs, as well as treatment choices and their corresponding consequences from both a health care utilization and an employment perspective, we hope to shed new light on the importance of different levers available to reduce the economic burden of this disease. Such insight will enable the health care system to better direct resources and improve the lives of those living with depression."

Results from this study were featured in the New York Times Sunday Review "Talking Red State Blues" (June 6, 2015).

Read the press release

Read the study

Read the Scientific American article