What Is the Economic Cost of Depression?

Patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) invariably undergo economic hardships. As a mental health disorder, MDD has many peripheral effects on patients’ lives, including social and economic costs. Between 2013- 2016, some 8.1% of adults in the US (20+ years of age) experienced some or other form of depression during a 2-week period. From an economic perspective alone, depression is crippling. Statistics show that MDD in the US increased by 21.5% from 2005-2010, amounting to an increase from $173.2 billion to $210.5 billion (taking inflation into account). This sharp increase is largely the result of higher medical costs.

However, the real costs of depression are found in the comorbidities. According to stats, every $1.00 of direct cost of depression was met with indirect costs of $6.60 on suicide-related cost factors, workplace costs, and other comorbidities. Indeed, it is true that increased incidences of depression bring a significant economic burden to bear on society. This is largely the result of reduced workplace productivity, and a substantial drain on the health care resources of the country. Naturally, not all forms of depression are associated with the same high costs. Mild-to-moderate depression does not result in as much economic burden as major depressive disorder.

Is Depression Self-Perpetuating?

Across the board, major depressive disorder is indeed a burdensome disorder in many ways. When it is a high persistence mental health disorder, and it is highly prevalent from an early age, MDD can wreak havoc on society’s resources. In the early 2000’s, a US study concluded that approximately 50% of workers with Major Depressive Disorder received treatment in the year that they were interviewed, with substantially less than that treated for depression. The failure to receive treatment is in itself a perpetuating factor with depression. Yet, depression per se is not strictly self-perpetuating. The individuals struggling through depressive disorders are unable to help themselves without psychotherapy, antidepressants, or advanced anti-depressant treatment options like TMS.

A growing number of MDD patients ask the question ‘What is TMS’ while researching methods for treating this crippling disorder. Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS™) is a specialized form of non-surgical treatment for MDD. Deep TMS requires use of a unique helmet that transmits magnetic waves to specific, targeted sections of the brain. The electromagnetic helmet affects neural activity and influences functionality. By alleviating symptoms of depression, Deep TMS can (with medication and therapy) enhance a patient’s wellbeing. Each session is roughly 20 minutes long, and it takes place 5 days a week for several weeks. Deep TMS is FDA cleared for the treatment of depression. There are limited side effects, works in conjunction with medication, and many insurance healthcare plans cover it across the spectrum.

Unfortunately, there is still a pervasive myth that depressed people should simply snap out of it. But depression is a real mental health disorder. The chemicals in the brain, the neurons, and synapses are not functioning the way they should under normal conditions. Depressed individuals tend to get stuck in a rut, whether it’s from physical changes within the individual, or an upsetting life event/s that has/have brought about the depressive episode.

Either way, negative, self-loathing thinking patterns begin to foment. This creates a black cloud which masquerades as a self-perpetuating state of mind. Indeed, psychotherapy is a highly effective treatment option for dealing with thought processes in depressed individuals. It is typically used in tandem with medication such as SSRIs and SNRIs. Not every medication is effective however. Individuals must be evaluated according to their tolerance and response to medications.

Various studies on self-perpetuating properties of dysphoric rumination were conducted by researchers Lyubomirsky and Nolen-Hoeksema et al. The hypotheses about the self-perpetuating nature of ruminative responses and depressed moods were tested. The studies supported the hypotheses that depressed individuals tended to engage in this type of activity and were more unlikely to engage in pleasant and distracting mood-lifting activities.

Other studies confirm the hypothesis that MDD patients who gained insights into their problems and their feelings, tended to avoid a distraction because they didn’t want it to interfere with how they understood themselves. Depressed moods without ruminating about it were not associated with decreased willingness to participate in distracting activities that would otherwise lift mood. So, in short individuals can wallow in their misery, knowing that it is not doing them any good.

Breaking Down the Costs of Treating MDD in the USA

The Analysis Group penned an article titled ‘The Growing Economic Burden of Depression in The United States.’ In their study, they found that Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) caused economic ripples which in turn added tremendous costs onto treating the disease. For example, every US $1 was met with additional expenditures of $4.70 on direct/indirect costs related to MDD, as well as an additional $1.90 on reduced workplace productivity. This in turn was exacerbated by the economic costs of depression-related suicide.

In short, $1.00 spent on direct major depressive disorder, including $0.40 on prescriptions, $0.36 on outpatient services, $0.18 on inpatient services, and $0.06 on emergency department services was met with a multiple of 6.6 X additional costs on a variety of options. These include $2.57 on comorbidity, $2.13 on comorbidity workplace costs, $1.55 on MDD workplace costs, and $0.35 on MDD suicide-related costs. In total, this amounts to $210 billion annually, based on the latest data.

Back to top button