Annual Costs of Major Depressive Disorder Sufferers in the United States Top $210 Billion

Date:February 25, 2015
Contact:Stephen M. Chambers
(617) 425-8446

  • Study Updates Landmark Research Quantifying the Economic Burden of Illness (2005, 2010)
  • More than 60% of the Costs of MDD Are Attributable to Comorbidities, Not MDD Itself
  • MDD Had a Dramatic Impact on Employment, Especially in Light of the Recent Global Economic Downturn

Boston - A new study published this month in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 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.

This study, "The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010)," which was 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 their previous landmark studies on the societal costs of depression: "The Economic Burden of Depression in 1990" (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, November 1993) and "The Economic Burden of Depression in the United States: How Did It Change between 1990 and 2000?" (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, December 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 found that the incremental economic burden of individuals with major depression increased by 21.5%, rising from $173.2 billion in 2005 to $210.5 billion in 2010 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The composition of these costs remained stable: approximately 50% of the total economic burden was attributable to workplace costs, 45% to direct costs, and 5% to suicide-related costs.

In addition, the authors found that MDD prevalence in the United States rose from 13.8 million in 2005 to 15.4 million in 2010, with the 50+ age group increasing fastest. This increase was partly due to an increase in the MDD prevalence rate and partly the result of the US adult population growth. Worsening economic conditions after the 2008 downturn took a particularly heavy toll, with the share of MDD sufferers who were either unemployed or not looking for work increased by 6.2 percentage points compared with 3.8 percentage points within the non-MDD group. And, while the rate of treatment increased by 6.1 percentage points among the full-time employed, less pronounced rates of increase were observed among the part-time employed and the not employed groups (1.2 and 0.8 percentage points respectively).

The authors also noted that only 38% of the total costs 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.

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