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Quantifying the Cost of Depression

0 2 years ago

Key Findings

  • Approximately 6-7% of full-time U.S. workers experienced major depression (MDD) within the past year.
  • The total economic burden of MDD is now estimated to be $210.5 billion per year.
  • For every dollar spent on MDD direct costs in 2010, an additional $1.90 was spent on MDD-related indirect costs.

An important study reveals just how vulnerable the work environment is to the financial impact of depression.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is estimated to affect around 16 million Americans (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2013) and, according to the World Health Organization, is the leading cause of disability worldwide (World Health Organization 2012). Among In the U.S. workforce, the prevalence of MDD has been estimated at 7.6% (Birnbaum et al., 2010). Major depression is a psychiatric disorder that goes beyond the normal human experiences of sadness. It encompasses a broad range of symptoms such as feeling worthless, having thoughts of suicide, losing interest in most or all activities, experiencing a significant reduction or increase in appetite or sleep, and having difficulty concentrating. Symptoms must be distressing to the individual or lead to an inability to function normally, such as at work or in maintaining relationships.

Depression can result in reduced educational attainment, lower earning potential, increased chance of teenage childbearing, higher unemployment, and increased work disability (Kessler, 2012). This study, authored by experts in economics and psychiatric epidemiology, provides a new look at the scope and scale of the financial burden of MDD to employers.


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