Economic Burden Of Depression Tops $200 Billion

The economic burden of people in the U.S. suffering from depression reached $210.5 billion in 2010, a 21% rise from the $173.2 billion seen five years earlier as the number of people with major depressive disorder (MDD) rose over the period.

Paul Greenberg, MS, MA, a managing principal at the Analysis Group, a health research firm, and colleagues found that while MDD prevalence in the U.S. was 13.8 million people in 2005, that figure rose to 15.4 million in 2010. People aged 50 and older represented the fastest growing group.

The increase in MDD was due, in part, to an increase in the MDD prevalence rate and population growth. The 2008 economic downturn also worsened things for those with depression, the researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. For example, those with MDD who were either unemployed or not looking for work increased by 6.2 percentage points from the 2005-2010 period, compared with a 3.8 percentage point increase in the non-MDD group.

In 2010, 1.5 million more people were treated for MDD compared with 2005. Over that period, the treatment rate increased from 52.2% to 56.2% in that period. However, while treatment increased by 6.1 percentage points among full-time workers, among part-time and non-employed people, the figures were 1.2 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively.

About 50% of the $210.5 billion economic burden was due to workplace costs, while 45% was attributable to direct costs and 5% to suicide-related costs. However, the researchers noted that just 38% of the total costs were due to depression itself. The rest was a result of comorbid conditions.

Those conditions, the paper notes, 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,” the authors wrote. “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.”

Study results were based on national survey and administrative claims data.


Greenberg PE, et al. The Economic Burden of Adults With Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010). J Clin Psychiatry. 2015; 76(2):155–162.